Rocco’s How Low Can You Go Low-Fat Marinara Sauce

Updated February 23, 2016


Now Eat This!

Published by Ballantine Books

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

There are some high-quality, great-tasting low-fat tomato sauces available on the store shelves these days, so if you don’t want to make sauce from scratch (don’t tell Mama!), you’d do well with any of the leading brands. But my name is Rocco, after all, and I figured I was under obligation to include at least one from-scratch marinara sauce. There’s just a hint of olive oil in it; everything else was bulked up to create great flavor.

Healthy Tips

• When you must use fat, always use extra-virgin olive oil from the first cold press. It is the purest and the most intensely flavored. In subsequent pressings, heat and chemicals are applied to the olives to create maximum extraction. The process degrades the quality of the oil-which means more is required for the same flavor impact as just a little bit of first cold-pressed extra-virgin.

• Adding the rind of a piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano to the pot of marinara sauce as it simmers is a great way to add flavor without adding any measurable fat.

• And just add 1½ teaspoons crushed red pepper to the marinara sauce to make your own spicy and flavorful fra diavolo sauce.



Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, low carb, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian


Taste and Texturegarlicky, herby, savory

Type of Dishpasta sauce, sauces


  • ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into small dice
  • Salt
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Two 28-ounce cans tomato puree
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 small piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind
  • 1 large sprig fresh basil


Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. When the pot is hot, add the olive oil. Add the garlic and onion, and season them with salt and crushed red pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and garlic are translucent, about 4 minutes.

Add the tomato puree, water, and Parmigiano-Reggiano rind to the pot. Bring to a simmer. Then cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 25 minutes.

With the back of a knife, bruise the basil and stir the sprig into the sauce. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Season with salt and crushed red pepper to taste, if desired. Serve, or store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


Include a Photo Include a Photo

Click the button above or drag and drop images onto the button. You can upload two images.

Cancel Reply to Comment

Thanks for your comment. Don't forget to share!


Report Inappropriate Comment

Are you sure you would like to report this comment? It will be flagged for our moderators to take action.

Thank you for taking the time to improve the content on our site.

Sign In to Your Account

Close Window
Sign In with one of your Social Accounts
Sign In using Email and Password