My Marinara


I have to apologize. Seriously. To all of the people who followed me at the beginning when I was first writing this blog. I mean, I thought I was a good photographer. I really did. I had spent years taking pictures of my kids and my dogs. And I took lots of pictures on vacations. So that made me experienced, right?

Then came food photography, which comes along with having a cooking blog. I thought it would be fairly straight forward. Mostly because I was one of those who’d always taken photos of my food at restaurants, and photos at farmers’ markets. I certainly didn’t think I was a pro. But I didn’t realize how bad I was.

Maybe it’s for the best, because otherwise I maybe wouldn’t have pursued this blog. Because unfortunately, to have a cooking blog means you have to know how to cook, you need to be able to write, you must be a food stylist, and you have to take really good photographs. I had 2 out of 4 going for me. But like I said, ignorance is bliss.

I didn’t realize any of this until recently when I decided to look at some old posts of mine. And I nearly fell off my chair. I’m not kidding. I deleted at least 10 immediately, and then thought about perhaps saving some as future, upgraded posts. It wasn’t the subject matter, or the writing. It was those awful photos.

But my marinara really is so good, and so easy to make, that I decided to offer up a new post on my marinara, but with better photos. So here it is. Hopefully you never saw the old one.

Marinara sauce is a red sauce that can contain quite a few ingredients, although never meat. Of course tomatoes are the base for the sauce, but other ingredients can include onions, garlic, celery, carrots, wine, and so forth.

My marinara contains three ingredients. There might be some dead Italians rolling in their graves when I make my marinara sauce, but that’s ok. No two living Italians can agree on what a marinara is comprised of, so I’m off the hook. And I can talk about Italians, dead or alive, because I’m half Italian. Sicilian, actually, but I’m throwing them in the same proverbial Italian pot.

Here’s my recipe:

My Marinara

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil*
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces high quality tomato sauce
Pinch of salt

First, heat up the oil over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the garlic.


Stir gently and wait just until the oil warms the garlic and you can smell it, then immediately pour in the tomato sauce. This should only take about 30 seconds. This is my technique for sautéing garlic because I do not like the taste of burnt garlic, and garlic can burn quickly.

Stirring gently, heat the sauce and let it cook for about 10 minutes. It will thicken a little. (An inferior, more watery tomato sauce will take longer to thicken. If it’s too watery, try adding a little tomato paste.) Add the salt and stir.

And so, that’s it ! This sauce is fabulous for a chicken or veal Parmesan, simply with pasta, as a dip, or even as a pizza sauce.


But it’s my favorite with any kind of pasta.


And with chianti, because the San Genovese grape is perfectly with red sauce. Especially with this garlic-spicy one.


If you don’t want to call it marinara, don’t. Just call it the best red sauce you’ve ever tasted. You’ll thank me!


* Don’t be scared about the amount of olive oil in this sauce. It’s good for you and it adds a lot of good flavor, because you’re using good olive oil, right?

36 thoughts on “My Marinara

    • I took three photography classes at my local camera store, and that really helped. Of course, I don’t remember too much, but a few important things. And a tripod helps. But just doing it often, because I post frequently, keeps me remembering where the buttons are on my camera! Start a blog!!!

  1. Well, i hear you!… :-) I am a lousy photographer, but even though I would like to improve, I am forced to admit I have no time to devote to that. So, in a way I decided that if people want to visit my blog they will have to do it for the recipes and the little notes about them. Photography is just not my forte…

    maybe one day I can get that going, but that might have to wait for retirement! ;-) ;-) ;-)

    as to your marinara, these photos turned out amazing! Glad you re-visited the post!

    • It takes a lot of focus, for lack of a better word. In 2012 I took 3 photography classes, and the only good thing is that I do so much food photography now that I remember how to use my camera. It was very easy for me to forget how to use my camera in between vacations, which was really a pain. And no one wants to read manuals on vacation!

  2. Red sauce, marinara, potaytoe, potahtoe… looks delicious :)
    Practice makes perfect, and I was pretty horrified of my first snaps, too … so much so that I remade and reshot lots of it : ) you’re not the only one!

  3. Well, the new photos had me thinking pasta at 6.30am here!
    Reading even the “blockbuster” food blogs known for their photos, the blogger gets better at photography over time. Your blog is great as it is, and I like flicking through your posts, though I would never say no to more food photos. :-)

  4. Looks delicious! Here in Trapani we add oregano to the marinara sauce, but then we add oregano to everything:) I know what you mean about taking food pictures…it’s not so simple as one would imagine. My cakes always look a different color than what they really are!

    • I took three photography classes, and I remember some things that I learned! The brain doesn’t work as well as it used to! One thing to adjust is white balance – it makes the color difference in photos.

  5. That first photo is fab! I hear you on the old blog horror, I’ve left the posts in place but up dated some photos, loads more to do though! Nothing better than good quality pasta with a simple well made tomato sauce. Sorry, but no matter how hard I try I can’t bring myself to call it marinara which in Oz is what we call a mixed seafood pasta sauce! 😀

  6. I empathise with you Mimi. There is a lot one has to focus on (pun intended). I like the cloth. I got a similar one from a guy who sells end of rolls of materials. Mine is usually used on the underside of furniture. It looks the part though. Live and learn.

    • I took 3 photography classes, which helped me out a lot. I also have to remind myself that some bloggers have their own photography studios, or at least a room in their homes dedicated to photography. I have neither!

  7. Well, I laughed out loud at this one! I have had the same experience when I look back at my earliest blog posts. I keep saying “I’ve got to reshoot that food.” ALthoughthe comparison is a real time testaemnt to how much we all have learned and improved over time! Congrats on all of your fab photos here. The marinara looks great, too! Un abbraccio a te!

  8. Geez, I see no need to apologize at all because we all have those pictures out there. I do have to say your new ones are making my mouth water. Over a year ago I got this super deluxe mega zoom camera & have only been able to figure out the auto shoot for the most part. I just signed up for an evening class on how to make the most of my camera. But get this – they want me to ready my book before coming to class! If I have to read my book, why did I sign up for class :) Oh well, I’ll take good notes.

    • Well, I’ve definitely improved. But I’m still not very patient.
      I can’t remember how many times I’ve read the camera manuals over the years. It definitely helps to have a teacher. I took three photography classes when I started the blog. And the teacher will do private sessions as well, which is nice, because you can work with your own camera.

  9. Food photography is definitely a special skill! I too have been shocked at the picture quality of some of my old posts. It takes some practice!

    I love how perfectly simple your sauce is. I bet it’s delicious!

  10. You are so right about a food blogger having to know how to cook, write, style food, and take photos. My flashbacks to old posts make me cringe, too.
    The interesting thing about marinara sauce that in Italy this is not called marinara sauce, only in the US. (In Italy: salsa di pomodoro.) But it’s a good recipe all the same.
    You are also very right about not burning garlic and about pairing this with a sangiovese based wine such as chianti.

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