Simple Marinara

As a writer, I’m used to self-isolating, but it’s become a bit more extreme amid COVID-19 social distancing measures. I’ve found pleasure in cooking during this time and put my overactive imagination to work. My latest rumination is that, at the end of the isolation peak amid supply chain disruption, I must sort out random remains into cohesive meals. It’s a detour to Simple Marinara, but….

Jump to Recipe

One such scenario? A can of green beans, a few pieces of coconut, the last bits of peanut butter, matzo meal, baker’s chocolate, corn meal, 3 eggs, yeast, a handful of dried beans, a dozen turkey stock ice cubes, five dried prunes and powdered milk … and go! It’s highly unlikely I’ll face any remotely similar scenario, but I can spend some creative energy trying to sort out how to make some meals from random ingredients. (I’m still sorting this one out.)

The Heart Wants What it Wants

Back in real life, I’m relatively well stocked with food and working down our supply. I bought groceries to make favorites and bring new ideas to life. I’m focused on simple meals that are healthy, hearty and satisfying. As I headed into mid-week, my heart said, “Tomatoes.”

As much as I like fresh tomato, I try to keep canned tomato sauce, paste and diced tomatoes on hand. These canned items allowed me to create a simple marinara for some spaghetti squash I picked up the week before.  Simple Marinara pairs with pasta or a veggie substitute for a delightful vegetarian meal, and it’s gluten-free. If you cook with fresh tomatoes it’s also low sodium. Simple marinara is a great base for meat-based dishes, too. Best of all, it’s ready in about half an hour. 

About Simple Marinara

You can serve Simple Marinara over spaghetti squash as a side or main dish with other Italian dishes or with a salad and garlic bread. If you don’t want to bother with spaghetti squash, use a pasta of your choice. And it’s great for a light meal on its own, too. If only I were stocked up on gelato for dessert. Oh well. I’ve got corn meal and baker’s chocolate and coconut and prunes….

“My grandma used to plant tomato seedlings in tin cans from tomato sauce & puree & crushed tomatoes she got from the Italian restaurant by her house, but she always soaked the labels off first. ‘I don’t want them to be anxious about the future,’ she said. ‘It’s not healthy.’” 

— Brian Andreas 

Simple Marinara

Simple Marinara was birthed as a vegetarian and gluten free dietary option for an Italian dish. If fresh tomatoes are used it contains no added sodium. It pairs well with spaghetti squash.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword gluten free, marinara, non-vegetarian option, tomato, vegetarian
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 38 minutes
Servings 4 half cups
Calories 65kcal


  • 14.5 oz. diced tomatoes
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • Two cloves garlic minced
  • ¼ yellow onion diced
  • ¼ C diced sweet peppers
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp brown sugar dark or light


  • Cover bottom of cooking pan lightly with olive oil and heat to medium.
  • Mince garlic, dice onion and peppers and place in pan.
  • Sauté until onion becomes translucent.
  • Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and brown sugar. Stir well.
  • Reduce heat to low and cover, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove lid and mash tomatoes with a ricer. Stir and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and serve.


Serving Suggestions
Serve over spaghetti squash or pasta alone or add shrimp, baked chicken, or Italian sausage (including plant-based proteins). Pairs well with side salads and garlic bread. Excellent topped with a fried egg (or two).


Serving: 1half cup | Sodium: 348mg | Calcium: 61mg | Vitamin C: 32mg | Vitamin A: 1069IU | Sugar: 9g | Fiber: 3g | Potassium: 668mg | Calories: 65kcal | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Fat: 1g | Protein: 3g | Carbohydrates: 15g | Iron: 3mg