One of my all time favorite dinners is a classic basil marinara sauce over angel hair pasta. The absolute best I ever had was at a quaint little restaurant in a grocery store mall. Even so, the atmosphere was romantic under dim lights and candle-lit tables and the service was impeccable. The restaurant also had a bakery and was always the go-to spot for their incredible mango tart to bring to events. I was so sad to see it close. And, it did so before I could ask for their recipe for basil marinara sauce.
I've been trying to recreate that recipe ever since. What was it that made that particular recipe so good? Was it the slow cooking time or the addition of some secret ingredient? I'll never really know.
But, I've tried to recreate it here. This recipe uses canned whole tomatoes because I learned from an episode of "America's Test Kitchen" that, not only are canned whole tomatoes better than diced, because they don't have as much calcium chloride added to keep them firm, but they are often better than store-bought which are picked underripe or just don't have a robust tomato flavor. Their top brand for taste is Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes.
Simple is the operant word here... Onion, carrot, garlic, tomatoes, basil, a touch of heat and sweetness and your almost there. I even like to sliver extra garlic for little bits of joy bursting in your mouth! And, the fresh basil is added at the end to keep it lively. One thing about adding carrots is that it makes the sauce a little less red with a slightly more orange tint, but they do add sweetness.
One of the best way to crush the whole tomatoes is with your clean hands, because it doesn't add any air, but you can use an immersion blender. Don't let the onions brown, but only become translucent and soft and add the chopped garlic after a few minutes it keep it from burning, as well.
These light and healthy plant-based recipes are a must try:
- Curried Chickpea Rice Salad
- Eggplant Szechuan-Style with Peppers & Mushrooms
- Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto with Basil Pesto
- Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Cream
- Asian Noodle Salad
Use this sauce with anything that calls for a marinara sauce like lasagna, or this recipe for Pasta Puttanesca with Spinach. It'd even be great as a topping for baked potatoes. And, kick up the nutrition by adding roasted or steamed vegetables or even greens.
I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments below for this Classic Basil Marinara Sauce recipe! If you have a photo, post it on my Facebook page, tag me using the hashtag #plantbasedcooking