My Perfect Marinara
This is what I consider to be a perfect marinara, short of growing perfect hydroponic tomatoes and using them fresh. I hope you try it, I've made this many times and settled on this recipe. The important part is the tomato brand you choose and not overcooking it. A marinara should be a looser sauce, contrary to the thick cooked-all-day sauces we're used to when we get marinara in the USA. Since it only cooks for about 20 minutes, the onions and garlic need to be cut uniformly and the correct size, because they may not be fully cooked before the sauce is done otherwise.
* For tomato brands I recommend only Classico Crushed, Escalon 6-in-1 Ground in Extra Heavy Puree, or Stanislaus Ground Tomato Magic OR 7/11. Escalon and Stanislaus, while the two best, are almost impossible to find locally in most places, but the Classico are at Wal-Mart and they are technically the same tomatoes as the Escalon 6-in-1 with a small amount more sodium per serving, being owned by the same parent company and all. Let me know what you think!
2 28oz cans tomatoes* See note above.
1 small yellow onion, even 1/4" dice
3-4 cloves garlic, sliced paper thin
2 oz. vodka
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into bite-size pieces
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper flakes, optional
Salt and Pepper
Add oil, onion, oregano, and pepper flakes (if using) to a cool 3 qt. sauce pan and place over medium-low and slowly bring up to heat. Season generously with salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Sweat without browning over medium-low until the onions are almost completely wilted, 5-6 minutes, and add the garlic, cooking 1-2 more minutes, until fragrant. Add tomatoes, torn basil, and vodka, plus an extra splash of water used to rinse out the tomato cans to make sure you get all the extra goodness out.
Increase heat to medium and bring sauce to a simmer, reducing heat as necessary to keep a simmer, and cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes. You're looking for the onions to still have texture and body with no crunch. At this point you can use a stick blender to make a smoother sauce. Personally I like it slightly chunky, so I use the stick for 5-10 seconds to puree up some of it and give the sauce a little more body, while leaving it still a little rustic. Totally optional and preferential.