We love Italian food.   If I thought that we could get away with eating it 4 time a week, we probably would.  I used to buy marinara.  One jar for $2 didn’t seem like a bad buy.  But….when you use a jar and a half when making Chicken Parmesan (our favorite meal next to Pizza) you start to wonder if there if making it yourself is better in the long run.   Once I started making it at home, we haven’t gone back to using the store bought kind.   It doesn’t take as long as you might think.   If you have an hour, you can make this super simple marinara.

This recipe was found when Virginia is for Hunter Gathers did a guest post on Nom Nom Paleo.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ¼ cups white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes in water (I recommend draining the water or else the sauce is super watery)
  • ⅛ teaspoon celery seed (original recipe called for celery salt, but I don’t have that and have always used the celery seed)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon coconut aminos (can be found at Whole Foods or Central Market)
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 pinches freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil cut in chiffonade, divided (If you don’t have fresh basil, dried basil works too.  When I use dried basil I tend to add a bit more)


Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet (I use a deep sided skillet so I only have to use one pan for this) over medium-low heat.  Add in your onions.  I like to caramelize the onions a bit to add some sweetness to the sauce.  If you find that the onions are starting to burn instead of caramelize, add a bit more olive oil.  If you don’t want to caramelize the onions, cook them until they are translucent.

Cooking the onions

Cooking the onions


While the onions are cooking, you can prepare the garlic.  The easy was to do it is if you have a garlic press.  I don’t have one, so I cut it by hand.   When you add in the garlic, cook it for about 3 more minutes.

Add in the garlic

Add in the garlic


Once the garlic has cooked with the onions, you can add the rest of the ingredients.  (If using fresh basil, put half of it in at this point) If you don’t have a deep sided skillet, you can use a large sauce pot.

Ingredients in the deep sided skillet

Ingredients in the deep sided skillet

Bring the mixture to a simmer.IMG_2391

Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour stirring occasionally.  If the sauce starts sticking to the bottom of the pan, turn down the heat.  Remove the bay leaf and add the rest of the fresh basil if using.

The sauce could now be used if you like a chunky sauce.  I don’t.  So I put it in the blender.

Ready to be blended

Ready to be blended

Almost there!

Almost there!


Blend it until you get the desired consistency.  I like my sauce really smooth.  So I will blend it a bit more.

Once you have the consistency you like, you can eat it or store it!



This sauce is so tasty!  I have had several people tell me that they can’t believe that it is homemade.  I am so grateful that I found this recipe.  It has become a staple in our house.   Hopefully it will become one in yours too!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Chicken Parmesan | My Healthy Ch[EAT]s

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