Go Back
+ servings

Grilled Marinara Sauce Recipe


tomatoes
Tried this recipe?Tell others what you thought of it and give it a star rating below.
3.73 from 36 votes
The idea of grilling vegetables may sound odd at first, but cooking them over charcoal can take the flavor up a notch. Here's a simple recipe that makes the most of ripe summer tomatoes.

Course:
Sauces and Condiments
Cuisine:
Italian

Makes:

Servings: 8 cups

Takes:

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons inexpensive olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 stalks of celery, leaves removed
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Morton coarse kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Notes:
About the herbs. You can use fresh herbs if you wish. Just double the quantity since fresh herbs are mostly water. The rule of thumb is triple the quantity, but play it safe and just double it. Some purists will argue that marinara doesn't have oregano, that only pizza sauce has oregano. I like oregano. So there.
About the salt. Remember, Morton coarse kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.
Optional mix-ins. While the whole shebang is in the pan, amp it up a notch with a pinch of red pepper flakes or chipotle powder. If you have some pesto, add a teaspoon.
Indoor version. I have made this dish successfully on a grill pan indoors. Not as good as outdoors, but better than the old saucepan standard.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page

Method

  • Fire up. Preheat the grill to medium hot and when it is ready, clean the grates thoroughly. Clean grates are very important for this recipe. Get some smoke started by putting some dry wood chips on the heat source.
  • Prep. Slice the tomatoes crosswise. Peel and slice the onion in half crosswise. Peel the carrot. Mince the garlic.
  • Paint the cut sides of the tomatoes lightly with oil.
  • Cook. Put the tomatoes on the grates in direct heat, cut end down for 5 to 10 minutes with the lid down or until they start to get some dark grill marks. Then roll them over and grill the skin side. Don't worry if they blacken a bit on the skin side. Remove them and let them cool until you can handle them. While the tomatoes are cooling, put the onion, carrot, and celery on the grill and roll them around until well marked. The tomato skins should slip off pretty easily when they cool off enough so you can handle them. When the other veggies are cool, chop them fine.
  • In a 2 quart pot or large frying pan warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add everything except the tomatoes and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so they don't stick. If they stick you can deglaze the pan with a splash of red wine or water and by scrubbing the pan with a wooden spoon.
  • Add the tomatoes to the pan, turn the heat to medium low, and simmer uncovered for about 1 hour. If it gets too thick add water.
  • Serve. Remove the bay leaf, taste and adjust the seasonings. If it is too acidic, you can add up to 2 teaspoons of sugar to balance it. You're done. The result is lumpy with those flavorful fire roasted veggies, and that's just the way it is. If you don't like that, you can puree it in a blender or food processor or with a stick blender and strain it. Now pour your sauce over pasta, use it on pizza, in grilled eggplant parm, or on just about anything except ice cream.
  • If you use it on pasta, a drizzle of really good fresh extra virgin olive oil on top gives it a nice boost. Or real Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Or a heaping teaspoon of pesto, or 1/4 cup of cream, or 2 tablespoons of fresh chevre cheese, or meatballs, Italian sausage, or...