Heirloom Tomato Marinara Sauce Recipe

Here's an heirloom variation on a longstanding favorite, tomato marinara sauce.

colander of heirloom tomatoes

Assorted varieties of heirloom tomatoes make the best tomato marinara sauce.

Photo by Walter Chandoha

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Since its emergence in the mid-16th century among seafaring families in Naples, Italy, marinara sauce —and the New World tomatoes that made it possible — has spread to every part of the globe. New tomato varieties have supplanted those used for it centuries ago, but you can share the spirit of olden times by making your own sauce with heirloom tomatoes. The wider an assortment the better.  Optionally, you could even give the sauce a nautical theme (it has maritime origins, after all) by adding shrimp or clams. All you really need, though, are fresh tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and assorted seasonings.

Heirloom Tomato Marinara Sauce

A colander heaping full of heirloom tomatoes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic
2 handfuls fresh mixed basil, parsley, oregano and marjoram, chopped
2 tsp kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh pepper

Peel and seed the tomatoes. (For easy peeling, cut an X in the bottom of the tomatoes, then boil them briefly — the skins should slide right off.) In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the garlic. When the cloves turn a honey brown, remove and discard. Put half of the tomatoes in a food processor and pulse to make small chunks. Add to the oil. Pulse the remaining tomatoes with half the herbs. Add to the pan with salt and pepper. Simmer to the desired consistency, 30 to 40 minutes depending on the tomatoes’ water content. Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining herbs. Enjoy. The sauce can be frozen for future use. Serves 8 to 10.