Marinara Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes

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This delicious Marinara Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes is from OG vegan cookbook author, Dreena Burton. It’s loaded with big flavor from juicy tomatoes and warm Italian spices and ready to be poured over your favorite pasta.

fresh tomato marinara in a glass jar
Photo Credit: Dreena Burton

Recipe by: Dreena Burton

When you cook more from scratch, you notice how fresh and real simple food can taste. If you are tired of jarred pasta sauces, try this homemade marinara sauce. Its big flavor and fast cook time (courtesy of an Instant Pot) might spoil you from ever going back to store-bought.

If you don’t own an Instant Pot, no worries because stovetop cooking directions are included as well.

The marinara sauce featured here is called Mama Mia! Marinara from Dreena’s book, Dreena’s Kind Kitchen. Published with permission.

cutting board with cherry tomatoes slice in half with basil

Ingredients in marinara

There are only wholesome ingredients that are bursting with flavor included in this deliciously simple marinara sauce.

  • Fresh ripe tomatoes
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Dates
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Red or white wine (or water or cranberry juice)
  • Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

The recipe card at the bottom of the page has the full list of ingredients with measurements and instructions.

What are the best tomatoes for marinara sauce?

I like Roma tomatoes for this recipe, but you can use any tomatoes you like. Tomatoes will be naturally sweeter and more flavorful in the summer. So, if you’re making this off-season, you may need to adjust the salt and add a touch more dates or sweetener to taste.

If you don’t have great fresh tomatoes on hand, two 28-ounce cans of whole tomatoes can be substituted.

Is it better to peel and deseed the tomatoes?

Since Roma tomatoes are used, their smallness and tender skin are perfect for this recipe, so there is no need for peeling. As a matter of fact, no matter what type of tomato you use, they won’t need to be peeled because the final step is to puree this sauce after cooking.

Much of the sweet flavor is in the pulp and gel at the center of tomatoes, so it’s much better to leave the seeds intact.

diced onions on cutting board

How to make marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes

Begin by chopping and slicing the onion, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and dates.

Set a multifunctional pressure cooker (such as an Instant Pot) to Saute.

Pour the wine into the pot and add the onion, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally 4-5 minutes until the onion is slightly soft.

Turn off the Saute function and add the fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, dates, basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper (if using).

Secure the lid and set the valve to the Sealed position. Press the Manual button, then set the cooking time for 20 minutes at high pressure. Allow the pot to come to pressure and cook.

Once the timer goes off, manually release the pressure or let it release naturally.

Use an immersion blender to puree the sauce to the desired consistency. Taste and add extra salt, pepper, or sweetener if needed.

Stovetop cooking method

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can prepare this sauce on the stovetop.

To do so, put the wine, onion, salt, and pepper in a large pot and set over high heat. Cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onion is soft.

Add the fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, dates, basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper (if using).

Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to puree the sauce to the desired consistency. Add extra salt, pepper, and/or sweetener to taste.

This recipe makes an excellent vegan spaghetti sauce!

white plate filled with spaghetti pasta and fresh tomato marinara sauce topped with basil leaves

Pro tips and variations

  • Sweetener- After cooking, you may want to add more sweetener if your tomatoes are not naturally that sweet. If you need to add a touch more after pureeing, you can add a teaspoon or so of pure maple syrup, date syrup, date sugar, or coconut sugar.
  • Herbs- Fresh herbs make a big flavor difference in this marinara. When tomatoes are in season, so is basil, so it’s a natural pairing. If you don’t have basil, you can use a little more fresh oregano (1-2 tablespoons) or some fresh thyme (2 tablespoons) or fresh rosemary (1-2 tablespoons). Fresh parsley can also be used, but it doesn’t add as much flavor.
  • Chopping- Since this sauce will be pureed after cooking, there isn’t any need to finely chop the vegetables. Just quickly chop in pieces, and into the pot they go!

Recipes that could use some marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes

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fresh tomato marinara in a glass jar
4.50 from 2 votes

Marinara Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes

Author: Debbie Alder
This delicious Marinara Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes is from OG vegan cookbook author, Dreena Burton. It's loaded with big flavor from juicy tomatoes and warm Italian spices and ready to be poured over your favorite pasta.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 8 cups

Ingredients 

  • 1/4 cup dry red or white wine or 2-3 tablespoons water or cranberry juice
  • 2.5 cups onion roughly chopped
  • 1.25 teaspoons salt or more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 pounds tomatoes roughly chopped (8-9 cups)
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes not packed in oil, roughly chopped
  • 5 large cloves garlic quartered or roughly chopped
  • 2-3 pitted dates sliced
  • 1 cup fresh basil loosely packed
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
  • few pinches crushed red pepper flakes optional

Instructions

  • Begin by chopping and slicing the onion, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and dates.
  • Set a multifunctional pressure cooker (such as an Instant Pot) to Saute.
  • Pour the wine into the pot and add the onion, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally 4-5 minutes until the onion is slightly soft.
  • Turn off the Saute function and add the fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, dates, basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper (if using).
  • Secure the lid and set the valve to the Sealed position. Press the Manual button, then set the cooking time for 20 minutes at high pressure. Allow the pot to come to pressure and cook.
  • Once the timer goes off, manually release the pressure or let it release naturally.
  • Use an immersion blender to puree the sauce to the desired consistency. Taste and add extra salt, pepper, or sweetener if needed.

Stovetop Method

  • If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can prepare this sauce on the stovetop. To do so, put the wine, onion, salt, and pepper in a large pot and set over high heat. Cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onion is soft.
  • Add the fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, dates, basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper (if using).
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes.
  • Use an immersion blender to puree the sauce to the desired consistency. Add extra salt, pepper, and/or sweetener to taste.

Video

Notes

The marinara sauce featured here is called Mama Mia! Marinara from Dreena’s book, Dreena’s Kind Kitchen. Published with permission.
Pro tips and variations
  • Sweetener- After cooking, you may want to add more sweetener if your tomatoes are not naturally that sweet. If you need to add a touch more after pureeing, you can add a teaspoon or so of pure maple syrup, date syrup, date sugar, or coconut sugar.
  • Herbs- Fresh herbs make a big flavor difference in this marinara. When tomatoes are in season, so is basil, so it’s a natural pairing. If you don’t have basil, you can use a little more fresh oregano (1-2 tablespoons) or some fresh thyme (2 tablespoons), or fresh rosemary (1-2 tablespoons). Fresh parsley can also be used, but it doesn’t add as much flavor.
  • Chopping- Since this sauce will be pureed after cooking, there isn’t any need to finely chop the vegetables. Just quickly chop in pieces, and into the pot they go!

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 103kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 345mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g

Disclaimer

To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

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About the Chef

dreena burton on the cover of her new book
Dreena’s Kind Kitchen

Dreena Burton is the OG vegan cookbook author. Vegan for over 25 years, Dreena is also a mom to three daughters, all raised on a plant-based diet. Author of six vegan cookbooks, her newly released Dreena’s Kind Kitchen just won the world’s first vegan cookbook award.

Dreena has also collaborated with renowned plant-based physician Dr. Barnard on The Cheese Trap and coauthored their most recent Cookbook for Reversing Diabetes. Dreena’s recipes have been featured with groups including PCRM, Forks Over Knives, Blue Zones, and The Food Network. Connect with Dreena’s online kitchen and community on her website.

The marinara sauce featured here is called Mama Mia! Marinara from her book, Dreena’s Kind Kitchen. Another recipe from Dreena’s book to check out is her Easy Vegan Pad Thai.

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2 Comments

    1. Hi Shellie- Yes, in the article, Dreena says, “If you don’t have great fresh tomatoes on hand, two 28-ounce cans of whole tomatoes can be substituted.” Sounds like can tomatoes will work just fine in this recipe. YAY!

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