J’s All-Day Marinara Sauce

J's All-Day Marinara Sauce

J’s All-Day Marinara Sauce

Last Saturday J. brought home 30 pounds of local tomatoes in a big box, purchased for an irresistible $15 from Frank’s, a local greenhouse and produce market and once of our favorite places to go when the CSA take for the week didn’t quite round out our weekly menu. The tomatoes were fully ripe and a little ugly – many of them only vaguely round  —  but that’s okay. Our kitchen is generally equal opportunity since ugly vegetables usually taste as good, if not better, than the perfect ones on display at the supermarket. (Check out last week’s Summery Carrot Dill Soup, made with some seriously ugly carrots).

My husband’s tolerance for farmer’s market, produce stands and pick-your own places never ceases to amaze me. In the 2 years since I took control of my health and began eating healthy, whole food – mostly lean proteins and vegetables – J. has been a constant source of encouragement and support. Uncomplaining when his much loved mashed potatoes and pot roast disappeared from our table, instead he complimented our new meals for their variety and sense of adventure until I actually believed in his enthusiasm.  (Our children are another story, but as I’ve said before, that’s why I’m the mom around here).

Bringing home 30 pounds of tomatoes to a vegetable-obsessed wife is very sweet, but bringing home 30 pounds of tomatoes to a vegetable obsessed wife who is stuck in bed after surgery is even sweeter. Why? Because he knew he’d have to cook them himself. Eighteen pounds of the ugly tomatoes went into this amazingly simple marinara sauce.  It does, as the title suggests, take all day to make it, but most of the real work on this tomato sauce is done in the first 30 minutes. A not small point of mercy: the tomatoes go into the pot with seeds and skins still intact. Pressing the tomatoes through a sieve is a small price to pay for avoiding the pain of seeding and peeling 18 pounds of tomatoes. For the rest of the day, J. plugged in his headphones and set about the rest of the Sunday chores, occasionally stirring the marinara sauce when he passed by the stove, while I savored the smell of the basil and garlic from bed.

A couple of additional notes about this recipe: it was adapted from a canning recipe by Simple Bites, but since the yield after 4 hours of cook time is only about 2 quarts, we didn’t need to can it. Count on about 16 half-cup servings or 8 full cup servings.  It tastes even better after a day or two in the refrigerator, maybe because the fresh basil really has a chance to flavor the rest of the sauce. We served this with turkey meatballs over zucchini noodles, but it would be amazing over a pasta with freshly shredded parmesan or mozzarella, or as a dip for breaded zucchini, eggplant, or mozzarella.

J's All-Day Marinara Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 16
  • 18 pounds tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh basil, divided
  • ¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  1. Core and chop the tomatoes. (There's not need to peel or seed them).
  2. In a large pot, sauté the onion in the olive oil until they are transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and salt and sauté for 1 minute.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil, and then turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 20- 25 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down.
  4. Position a sieve over a large bowl and press your hot tomatoes, onions and garlic with the side of a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula to encourage the juice to run into the bowl. Once the tomato sauce has been separated from the seeds and skins, return it to the pot and stir in the parsley and ¼ cup of the basil.
  5. Simmer sauce over medium low until it is reduced by at least ½ (about 4 hours).
  6. After the sauce finishes cooking, stir in the remaining ¼ cup of chopped fresh basil.
  7. Serve sauce immediately, or store in a gallon-sized freezer bag or 2 quart-sized mason jars.

all-day marinara sauce nutrition facts


    • elizabeth@threebeansonstring.com says

      Claire – Yes, it is! Doesn’t it seem crazy? Eighteen pounds of tomatoes cooks down to two quarts after several hours. The resulting sauce is unbelievably sweet. Thanks for coming by!


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