Dinner at the Ranch

Basil-infused Marinara Sauce

Recipe: Basil-infused Marinara Sauce

Summary: An olive oil infusion forms the basis for a simple, flavorful and juicy sauce.


  • 1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, large or 1 small
  • 8-10 garlic cloves
  • black pepper
  • 1 C. fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 1/2 t. mineral salt
  • 8 oz. can organic tomatoes, chopped or diced (not sauce)
  • 1 C. balsamic vinegar


  1. Put the balsamic vinegar into a wide sauté pan and put over high heat. While you prepare the sauce, reduce the vinegar to maple syrup consistency. It’s tricky, so pay attention to it. Don’t inhale the fumes.
  2. Chop onions and garlic, 1/4″ pieces
  3. Put the olive oil, onions and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat. Grind in a generous amount of black pepper.
  4. Keep stirring the simmering onions and garlic, and when it’s beginning to bubble, turn the heat down to it’s lowest setting.
  5. Simmer for probably 15-20 minutes, until the onion is translucent and the garlic is soft and beginning to brown. If you’ve got the heat right, there won’t be any burning, sticking or need to stir it while it’s simmering.
  6. Turn off the heat and add the basil. It will seem quite a lot, but push it in so it is all immersed in the oil. Let this steep for 5 minutes or so.
  7. Add the salt and tomatoes, turn the heat on low and stirring occasionally, bring the sauce to temperature. Don’t cook it, just get it hot, then turn off the heat.
  8. Add a tablespoon of the balsamic reduction. Use some of what’s left to garnish the plate for service.


This sauce is well suited to ravioli, gnocchi, papardelle, or bruschetta.


Fresh tomatoes – add 1 1/2 C. chopped fresh tomato instead of the canned. If you have access to good tomatoes, this is preferred.

This sauce is simply flavored by design, but other spices such as fennel seed or crushed red pepper added at the beginning of the simmering might be nice.

Other Alliums such as scallions, shallots, or chives would make a nice addition or substitution.

Substitute the balsamic reduction with white wine; add 1/2 C. of it as the onions and garlic are finished, but before adding the basil. Simmer the sauce until the alcohol from the wine is gone, then proceed with the recipe.

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