Roast Garlic Marinara Sauce

Roast Garlic. Two wonderful words that can make almost any meal just that much better. The first time my grandma made her home made, hand rolled pasta and marinara sauce with a roast garlic (pro tip recipe link) kicker, the whole world of Italian cuisine got three hues brighter.

This humble, rustic old world classic can be done a thousand ways; ask anyone who had an Italian Nonna and they’ll tell you hers was the best on earth; they’re all 100% correct. My Nonna Enrichetta (or “Kay” as she was known) was no exception.

The beauty of this sauce is, beyond its simplicity, its versatility; it is one of the five mother sauces, after all.

I took my Nonna’s recipe (she swore up and down my grandpa made a better version of it, but the idea of a good Italian woman’s marinara being outdone by an Austrian farmer still seems a bit far-fetched) and tweaked it a bit by adding coated garlic and smoothing it out, thus adding a richness that rules out the need for tomato paste and two hours of simmering.

Sacrilege you say? Well, Nonna hasn’t stepped forth from the ether to hit me with her wooden spoon (I swear the woman was a samurai with that thing) for desecrating her second-most beloved culinary legacy. I’m pretty sure, as sure as I was her favourite grandchild, she forgives me.

Aaanywaaaay, here we go…

marinara sauce and meatballs

Roast Garlic Marinara Sauce

Scratch-made marinara accented with roasted garlic
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 4


  • Blender, sauce pan


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 whole onion rough chopped
  • 1 rib celery rough chopped
  • 4 cloves roasted garlic
  • 2 cloves raw garlic rough chopped
  • 1 cup red wine have a sip for yourself
  • 2 Tbsp basil
  • 1 Tbsp thyme
  • 3 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 can crushed tomato 796ml/28 oz
  • 2 bay leaves


Prepping the sauce

  • Rough chop the onions, celery and garlic. Name it mirepoix.
  • Place the mirepoix into a blender or bowl that will accommodate a hand blender; add 1/2 cup of the red wine
  • Blend until smooth consistency is reached; about 10-20 seconds

Building the sauce

  • Heat up a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, add oil, salt & pepper
  • Once S&P start giving off a slight aroma, add the blended mirepoix; gently to avoid it getting jumpy.
  • Stir until the blend becomes a pale golden brown; add the rest of the wine and herbs.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes and gently stir until all are evenly mixed. Add the bay leaves.
  • Set the heat to simmer and let it ride for 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes or as it starts to bubble and spit; let the sauce guide you….



On blending smooth your mirepoix: if you really like your marinara chunky (I don’t, which is why I do mine “lisce”), you can dice up your onion and celery as you like. In the end, it wouldn’t change the flavour.
I don’t much care for tomato paste in my marinara sauce, nor am I a big fan of sugar in my sauce, hence you won’t see me use them. 
Length of simmer: it really depends how rich and thick you like your sauce. I’ve found that the longer you simmer it, the more it reduces, the thicker it gets, the more bitter it can become (forcing the use of sugar, which in my opinion, is more akin to correcting an error).

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