Heat a saucepan over medium heat with the olive oil. Once hot, add the garlic and sauté for 30-45 seconds, being careful not to burn it.
Pour in the tomatoes and allow it to simmer for 10-15 minutes with a lid on. Then add the salt, pepper, and sugar, stir, and leave it to simmer for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.Feel free to simmer it for slightly longer for a more developed, concentrated flavor and thicker consistency.
Add the oregano, stir well, and then remove the sauce from the heat. Make sure to give it a final taste test, too, and adjust any of the seasonings.If you want a smooth sauce, you can optionally use an immersion blender/stand blender to process it to your desired consistency.Use it immediately or leave it to cool before transferring to an airtight container to store.
Use high-quality tomatoes: I highly recommend using San Marzano tomatoes, which have a sweet, delicious flavor and aren't too acidic.
Sauté the garlic: This not only softens it but makes it more fragrant and infuses the oil with garlic flavor.
For a thicker/thinner sauce: Simmer the sauce for longer to thicken it or add a little water or low-sodium vegetable broth for a thinner marinara.
For more flavor: Simmering the marinara for longer (up to an hour) will allow the flavor to meld and intensify more. However, it will also thicken the sauce over time.
To adjust the texture: Leave it chunky, mash the tomatoes, or even blend/puree the sauce until smooth – it’s up to you.
Sweeten to taste: Sugar is great for acidic tomatoes and canned tomatoes with a "tinny" flavor, but the amount will be adjustable to taste or not even required at all.
Make it ahead when possible: This gives the flavors time to meld and improve.
Optional add-ins and flavor variations:
Soy sauce/tamari - instead of salt for extra umami flavor.
Onion - finely minced and sautéed with the garlic– or use onion powder.
Tomato paste - add just a little for a rich, concentrated, robust tomato flavor.
Red pepper flakes/cayenne pepper - add a hint or more of spice to the sauce.
Balsamic vinegar - just a splash will add a tangy, slightly sweet, acidic depth.
Dry red or white wine - a large splash added and then simmered to cook the alcohol off will add a wonderful complex depth to the sauce.
Fresh herbs - i.e., fresh basil, oregano, thyme, or parsley. Add them off-heat at the end.
Smoked paprika - for a subtle smoky flavor.
Butter - stir a little in at the end to create a richer, silkier sauce,
Cream (add ¼-1/2 cup of heavy cream for a creamy "rosa sauce" style sauce.
Check the blog post for more tips and serving recommendations!