This summer garden marinara is one of my favorite ways to use up the end of season tomatoes and herbs that often go to waste.  I mean who doesn’t love a quick weeknight pasta or an easy dip for any of your fried Italian favorites.

You will need to think of this as more of a guided choose-your-own-adventure than a real marinara recipe. Undoubtedly, you will have different ingredients and types of tomatoes in your garden than ours, which will greatly affect the taste of the finished sauce. 

We think all of these ingredients are a great way to infuse acid, heat and your desired sweetness to each batch. So start slow with smaller portions than what this recipe calls for and build the flavor according to your own personal taste.

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Summer Garden Marinara

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  • Author: Jennifer Richmond
  • Cook Time: 1 hr 15 min
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: 46 jars 1x



2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large white onion

1 zucchini

8 cloves garlic

12-15 large tomatoes amount is flexible, add as much as you have

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons red pepper paste

2 tablespoons tomato paste

½ cup red wine

Juice from 2 lemons

½ cup fresh herbs any combination but we love basil and oregano


Roughly chop onion and zucchini and pulse in a food processor until finely diced.

Set a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add oil. Sauté the veggies with a pinch of salt and pepper until softened and lightly browned.

Finely mince garlic and add to sautéing veggies for the final two minutes.

Meanwhile, wash and roughly chop your tomatoes, remove the core end and any bad spots. Pulse tomatoes in the food processor, keep some texture, don’t totally puree them. Transfer each batch to the pot and sauté with the other veggies until you’ve processed all your tomatoes. The number of tomatoes you use is totally flexible and doesn’t need to be exact, but you need plenty for the acidic flavor and liquid. 

Stir in salt, pepper, sugar, red pepper paste, tomato paste, red wine and the juice from two lemons.

NOTE: These are all estimates and will very much depend on the size and type of your tomatoes! Start with half of each and continually taste as your sauce develops. Add more as needed.  

Let sauce simmer over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, bubbling slightly for about 1 hour. You want the liquid to reduce and your sauce to thicken slightly. The cooking time can vary depending on how many tomatoes you use. You are reducing the liquid to make the sauce as thick as you like. Add your herbs about halfway through your cooking time.

When the sauce is done, allow it too cool slightly on the stovetop. See recipe notes for freezing instructions.


Marinara sauce can be stored in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.  If freezing in glass jars (or really any container), follow these guidelines:

Fill Jars ¾’s Full – This allows the sauce room to expand as it freezes so your jars don’t crack.

Cool in the Fridge First – Glass doesn’t like sudden temperature change, so let your pot of sauce cool slightly on the stovetop before filling your jars.  Then let them cool in the refrigerator overnight before moving them to the freezer.

Store Sauce in Different Sized Jars or Containers – Smaller sized jars can be used for lunch flatbread pizzas or larger jars for pasta dinners, or homemade pizza night. 

Freeze in sizes for your intended use.

To Use – Thaw overnight in the fridge.

If you are not using up garden tomatoes, 2-3 large cans of tomatoes can be used, and 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried Italian seasoning can be substituted for the fresh herbs.

If you are making a very large pot of sauce and using a lot more tomatoes you can increase all of the other ingredients to taste.

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