Renata’s “Smashing” Marinara

  • Yield : Enough sauce for one pound of pasta
  • Servings : 4-6
  • Prep Time : 5m
  • Cook Time : 25m
  • Ready In : 30m

Renata’s Marinara–Smash it, Crush it, Leave it

 No chopping, no slicing, so sweet

30 minutes

This ‘smashing’ garlic idea came to me after making Marcella Hazan’s butter and onion tomato sauce, where she leaves the onion whole and the sweet natural sugars soak into the sauce, with none of the sharpness from the surface area of the chopped onion. I figured, hey, why not try this with garlic too? It worked! This sauce is so sweet. People always wonder why my marinara tastes different. This is why!


  • 1 (32oz can) Whole Italian San Marzano (or organic) Italian Tomatoes
  • 4-5 plump cloves garlic, smashed with back of knife (NOT sliced, chopped, just smashed)
  • 4-5 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
  • 4-5 twists of pepper grinder or to taste
  • 1/2 a cup (or a teensy bit more than that) of the water you rinse through saucy, empty can of tomatoes


Step 1

Pour olive oil in bottom of large sauté pan, smash garlic cloves with back of knife (use your weight and crush!) and nestle into garlic.

Step 2

Empty can of tomatoes into blender plus water you rinsed all those lovey juices from inside can of empty tomatoes. (You will fill to 4 cup mark/32oz mark on your blender if ya wanna be exact.) Briefly blitz, just long enough to crush tomatoes.

Step 3

Turn heat on medium under sauté pan and let garlic start to smell gorgeous and begin to sizzle a little, but not burn. When garlic starts to color, add contents of blender and stir in salt and pepper from grinder. Cook on medium/medium high heat to a simmer about 25 minutes or so, until sauce has reduced to a thick consistency. Taste at end and adjust seasonings.

Step 4

Remove garlic cloves and discard (or eat if you wish!) You will be left with all of the sweetness and the flavor of the garlic with none of the sharpness or bitterness sometimes left from chopping/mincing. Pour over one pound of your favorite Italian pasta (DeCecco?).

Step 5

This secret of not chopping came to me after I tasted how sweet a different sauce I make tasted when I cook it with one whole onion simmered for a couple of hours. The sweetness of the garlic comes out into the sauce, and none of the sharp, sometimes bitter flavors of finely diced or chopped garlic come out. This is my sweetheart sauce. Mmmmm.



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Meet Renee Gough; writer, food enthusiast..

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