Nonno Joe's Italian Red Sauce

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Mangia! Mangia! Big pot or small, this all-purpose marinara can be used for pizza, pasta, lasagna...or you can just eat it by the bowl, like Vivi does.


  • canned crushed tomatoes (Cento brand is good)
  • white or yellow onions (½ large onion or 1 small-medium onion for 1 small can tomatoes)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic each small can tomatoes
  • whole carrots (about 1 per small can tomatoes)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil per small can
  • water (½ volume of canned tomatoes)
  • fresh or dried basil (1 sprig fresh or 1 tsp dried per small can)
  • ½ tsp oregano per small can
  • ½ tsp thyme per small can
  • 1 bay leaf per small can
  • salt and black pepper to taste (sometimes crushed tomatoes have salt already added)


Heat an appropriately-sized pot over medium heat. In a food processor, blend onions and garlic until finely chopped. Add to the pot and cook, stirring, until onions are translucent. Process carrots until chopped (you can also leave them larger if you like a chunkier sauce) and add to pot, together with remaining ingredients. Turn up heat and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sufficient water has evaporated and sauce is smooth and tender (about 1 hour). Remove bay leaf and continue simmering, if desired.


  • Brown chicken drumsticks and add to sauce, with mushrooms and red wine, for chicken cacciatore!
  • Brown ground beef with onions and carrots and add for a hearty meat sauce.
  • Try adding bell peppers, extra basil - customize as desired.
  • Use with stock as a base for chili and stews.


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