Arayahs Marinara Sauce


The Pressure Cooker Gourmet

Published by Harvard Common Press

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

After her first trip to Italy, my sister, Arayah Jenanyan, came home with an exhilaration she described as having found her true origin. She also came home with marinara sauce on the mind. She had left her lush vegetable garden with many tomato plants to languish in the sun as she frolicked under another sun. On her return, the tomatoes were sprawling all over the garden and sweet as only vine ripened can be. With so much harvest to make use of, it was marinara sauce for family and friends the rest of that summer and marinara sauce from the freezer for many months thereafter. She served it plain and pure over spaghetti as she gleefully, if somewhat didactically, explained to her guests, wondering where was the seafood, “No, marinara sauce means plain, smooth tomato sauce. Then you add fish or clams if you want”. The operative word is smooth, for marinara, even though quick to cook, is puréed. She enjoys that part of making marinara and always takes the time to press the sauce through a fine china cap sieve; nothing else will turn out quite the same silken texture. She doesn’t add any extras, preferring the elegant simplicity of the life and marinara sauce she discovered in Italy. Here’s her recipe.

Makes4 to 5 cups, or 6 to 8 servings

Cooking Methodpressure cooking



Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian

Equipmentfood mill, food processor

Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Textureherby, light

Type of Dishpasta sauce, sauces


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated, peeled, and coarsely chopped
  • 4 medium-size yellow or white onions, coarsely chopped
  • 4 to 5 pounds tomatoes, preferably summer ripe, coarsely chopped, with juices
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • Handful of chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, parsley, oregano, and basil


  1. Heat the oil in the pressure cooker over medium heat until beginning to smoke. Add the garlic and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not caramelized, about 10 minutes.

  2. Add the remaining ingredients, including the tomato juices, lock on the lid, and bring to pressure over high heat, about 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes to finish cooking.

  3. With the steam vent pointed away from your face, gently release any remaining pressure. When cool enough to handle, push the sauce through a china cap sieve or purée it in a food processor or through a food mill.

  4. Reheat and use right away. Or cool and store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.


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