It might be fall, but that doesn’t mean I’m done with fresh tomatoes yet. And if you know what’s good for you, you aren’t either. This ridiculously easy fresh tomato marinara is a perfect recipe for these transition weeks between summer and fall. Deeply flavorful, stupid easy, and incredibly versatile, mastering marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes is a recipe that every home chef should master.
According to the calendar it’s fall. According to the thermometer? It’s still summer. With days peaking in the 90’s, I’m having a really hard time getting cozy with autumn. We went apple picking over the weekend and while it was lovely (awww, family time!), it still felt sort of wrong. Sweating my butt off while harvesting autumn deliciousness? Nofreakingthankyou. Cassian begged us for pumpkins and I was like, nope – not ready. Ask me next weekend.
Even so, when the clock strikes September my mind starts reaching for cold weather comfort foods. Soups and stews, ragouts and roasted vegetables, and most importantly Sunday sauce. You can typically find a crock of that tomato crack bubbling on my stove from September through March, but this year I just haven’t been able to go there yet. My best compromise? Fresh tomato marinara. Which isn’t really a compromise, because this recipe is awesome AF.
Fresh tomato marinara is a recipe that never goes out of style. Deeply flavorful, stupid easy, and incredibly versatile, mastering marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes is a recipe that every home chef should master. Plus it’s ready in less than 45 minutes so and doesn’t turn my kitchen into a hotbox. Win/win.
Fresh Tomato Marinara Recipe Notes
The name says it all – fresh tomatoes. Preferably local, even better if they’re homegrown. Roma tomatoes are delicious and readily available. I used early girl’s that I found at the local coop. You could also go with cherry tomatoes, brandywines, sunbursts…there are loads of possibilities. Just make sure they’re super fresh and super ripe. You want to take advantage of all of the natural sugar in juicy, ripe fresh tomatoes to make this marinara sauce really shine.
I start this sauce out with lots of fresh garlic and butter, because frankly butter makes everything better. You could use olive oil, and I’ve been there/done that, but I think the butter really does the tomatoes justice. Also, butter is delicious. Am I repeating myself? Let’s just chalk that up to hitting middle-age.
I pop a small bundle of fresh herbs in with the fresh tomatoes before reducing them down. A spring each of thyme and oregano are my go-to choices, and the flavor is subtle but bright. I finish it all off with a healthy dose of fresh basil. Toss some rosemary into the bouquet garni (that’s just a fancy way of saying “bundle of herbs) if you have it.
This sauce is ready in about 40 minutes, depending on how quickly you can chop your tomatoes (and whether or not you have a helper). I dice the tomatoes relatively small (half to three-quarters of an inch) for a thick-but-not-chunky sauce. Be mindful to stir frequently to prevent the tomatoes from scalding. This recipe results in about two cups of fresh tomato marinara – just enough for a pasta dinner for four. The recipe easily doubles (or triples) and keeps well in the freezer for about a month.
Fresh Tomato Marinara with Basil
Fresh tomato marinara is a whole food recipe that never goes out of style. Deeply flavorful, stupid easy, and incredibly versatile, it's a recipe that every real food chef should master.
- 2 tbsp butter or ghee for paleo or Whole30
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 lb fresh tomatoes diced to 1/2"
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh oregano
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp fresh basil julienned
Tie the herbs together with a piece of cotton kitchen twine. Core and dice the tomatoes. Dice the tomatoes in batches and occasionally sweep into a bowl to capture both the tomatoes and their juices.
Heat a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the butter to the pan and heat until it melts. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant and starting to lightly brown, 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, balsamic, thyme and oregano bundle, salt, and pepper.
Increase heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to medium/medium-high and maintain a brisk simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid evaporates and the tomatoes fall apart, 20 minutes. The marinara will be very thick with the consistency of stew.
Remove from heat and stir in fresh basil.
This recipe easily doubles and can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
Make it Paleo or Whole 30: Sub butter for ghee.