Dear Marinara {sauce}, with Love

Growing up in an Italian family, I developed a fondness for marinara sauce, or red sauce from a very early age. And, not just any marinara sauce, good marinara sauce. Personally, I don’t like my sauce to be sweet, I prefer a little tartness to it. My grandmother made a thin sauce and my mom makes a sauce with ground beef and mushrooms but my favorite sauce of all was my dad’s recipe. As much as I loved his, over the years, I have switched it up and it’s evolved to the point of near perfection. At least according to my family. It’s best when cooked in a slow cooker for hours and it’s even better after it’s sat for days. I make a huge batch and freeze the extra to enjoy later. I hope you like it as much as we do!

I start by chopping up a yellow onion and sauté it with some chopped garlic. I love chopped garlic, but I don’t like the way my hands smell, so I take the lazy way out and use my Pampered Chef garlic press. I don’t even have to peel the garlic and my hands don’t smell when I’m finished.


Chopped Garlic

I cook the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent, then remove the pan from the heat.

Onion Garlic

Everything else goes right into the slow cooker. Lots of yummy spices, parmesan cheese, tomato sauce, tomato puree, tomato paste, onions and garlic…..what could be better?


Red Sauce

I put the slow cooker on low and just stir it every 30 minutes or so and let all of those flavors combine. You can even add some dry red wine if you’re feeling adventurous.

I like to add sausage or meatballs because we’re not vegetarians around here. Not that there is anything wrong with being a vegetarian. If you are, then this sauce is still for you. I promise you will love it.

Today I decided to add some sausage. I made turkey sweet Italian sausage. Sometimes we go for the pork sausage, but summer is coming so we’re cooking with turkey tonight. I start by pricking each sausage 3 times per side with a fork. Then I add olive oil to a large skillet and cover the sausage with water and once the water comes to a boil, let the sausage cook for 10 minutes.


All of the fat comes to the surface and then I drain it off and let the casings crisp up in the remaining olive oil. The crisp casings add such great flavor, especially after the sausage soaks in the red sauce for a couple of hours. You can cut them with a fork and they melt in your mouth. Trust me, a couple of extra steps is sometimes well worth the effort.

Cooked Sausage

Good, Italian pasta is a must in my opinion. It’s a little more pricey, but completely worth it. Good ingredients make a big difference and pasta is such an affordable ingredient as it is. Go for the good stuff! If you have never splurged on good, Italian pasta, do it for me when you make this dish. I’ll be so very grateful.


Boil the pasta until just past al dente. I like to add a bit of olive oil to the pasta water so that it doesn’t stick together. All of the chefs on Food Network add salt to the water. I don’t find it necessary and for me, extra sodium is extra sodium. The sauce has plenty of flavor, so believe me, your pasta will not be bland!

Pasta Water

Top the pasta with a plenty helping of sauce, some meat if you like and freshly grated parmesan cheese and chopped, fresh basil.

marinara sauce


If you try this recipe, I would love to see a photo! Tag #ketchumkitchen on Instagram.

That’s Amore!

Italian Heart

Dear Marinara {sauce}, with Love

Dear Marinara {sauce}, with Love


  • Two 28 ounce cans of tomato sauce
  • Two 28 ounce cans of tomato puree
  • Two 14 ounce cans of tomato paste
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 tbl olive oil
  • 1 tbl dried basil
  • 1 tbl dried oregano
  • 1/2 tbl dried parsley
  • 1/2 tbl dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Good Italian pasta
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese for garnish
  • Fresh chopped basil for garnish.
  • Optional Meat balls, Italian sausage, turkey Italian sausage


  • Add olive oil to a small skillet and add the chopped onion and sauté until they start to turn translucent then add the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes or so, then take the pan off the heat.
  • In a slow cooker (crock pot), add the tomato sauce, tomato puree, tomato paste, basil, oregano, parsley, Italian seasoning, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese. Add in the onion/garlic mixture. Cook on low, stirring occassionaly for a minimum of 4 hours to really let the flavors combine.
  • Serve over pasta garnished with freshly grated parmesan cheese (not the stuff in a plastic canister that you get on the pasta isle) and fresh, chopped basil. Enjoy!
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    1. YUM!!!! I’m allll about red sauce, and like you, I hate it when it’s sweet. I get really sad if I try a new jarred sauce and it’s overwhelmingly sweet. And you cook this in the crockpot? Total winner!

    2. this looks so good! my fiancé grew up with all Italians (hes so not Italian), so he loves to make a good pasta dish on sundays. I grew up with my mom making canned sauce so I came to hate any red sauce pasta but after trying his, I’m all for it! i’ll have to get him to try out your recipe!


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