Fresh Marinara Sauce with Pasta and Mozzarella

When I have heirloom tomatoes growing in the backyard that are so ripe, they turn purplely-red,


I shoot pictures of them. Glamour shots. Ad nauseum. That’s what I was doing when my husband came home from work a few nights ago. No dinner in sight. He gently asked what we were going to do for dinner. I lied and said, ” I was just getting ready to make a marinara sauce. Would you be a sweetheart and run outside and snip some basil [while I take a few more photos]?”

DSC_0690 DSC_0706

I hadn’t planned to blog the cooking of this meal. There was no mise en place. No specified amounts. No recipe. Just a lot of gorgeous tomatoes and a long history of making marinara sauce. As my husband walked out the door and saw me start taking pictures, I detected the tiniest of sighs. I told him not to worry; dinner would be ready by the time the pasta was finished cooking.

I put a pot of salted water on the stove for the pasta and started chopping the garlic and tomatoes. By the way, there is no reason to peel or seed fresh ripe tomatoes. You wouldn’t do that if you were eating them over the kitchen sink with a salt shaker in your hand like my grandfather used to do (“before my heart attack,” he always lamented) so why do so with a marinara sauce that is only going to cook for ten minutes?

Garden Fresh


Yield: Approximately 2 quarts of sauce


¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
About 3½ pounds of very ripe tomatoes, rough chopped
Salt and cracked pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
Leaves from 5 stems of basil, rough chopped
8-12 ounces mozzarella, cut into one-inch cubes
1 pound pasta, cooked al dente
Grated Reggiano Parmesan cheese, to pass


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

While waiting for water to come to a boil, start prepping the tomatoes, garlic, and basil: core tomatoes and chop into 2-inch chunks, peel and mince the garlic, and snip the basil leaves off the stems. By this time, the water should be boiling, and it’s time to add the pasta to the water.

Next, heat the oil and garlic together and, when hot, add the chopped tomatoes. Do not brown the garlic. It will soften with the tomatoes. Add salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Cook the tomatoes on medium-high heat for about 10-12 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked.


Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Al dente is the goal; do not allow pasta to overcook. If all goes according to plan, the pasta, and the tomatoes will be ready about the same time.


Add cooked pasta to a serving bowl. Add the mozzarella chunks. Add the basil to the hot tomato sauce and stir it in just before you are ready to add the sauce to the bowl of pasta. Mix it all together and serve hot.


Pass the grated Reggiano. Buon appetito!


To see which varieties of tomatoes I am growing this year, check out this post.

To see which varieties of cherry tomatoes I am growing, check out this one.


Related Posts on Italian Style Cooked Vegetables
Grandma’s Italian Fried Cauliflower
Pasta e Fagioli, aka Pasta and Bean Soup
Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Asparagus and Chicken
Roasted Ratatouille
Amazingly Delicious Sautéed Carrots

© 2016 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. No photos or text may be used without written consent.

32 thoughts on “Fresh Marinara Sauce with Pasta and Mozzarella

  1. Lovely snaps, and thanks for posting a delicious and simple dish that even I can cook 🙂
    Full disclosure: I feel the same way about the beauty of vegetables. I watch their development day by day, and admire every change. Unfortunately, this often makes it genuinely difficult to harvest them: “Maybe tomorrow…” The only part that’s harder is thinning seedlings.

    1. Ha! I don’t do seedlings well, either. And the Kaffe Fassett cabbage — I can’t bring myself to pick it! If you haven’t read Lab Girl yet, pick up a copy. There’s a lot in there about plants. My husband and I have been listening to it. Good to hear from you!

      1. Thanks for the recommendation – I just reserved the audiobook on interlibrary loan. 8th in line, so may be winter listening!
        Did I miss the KF Kabbage? I’m picturing a cabbage in a massive knitted coat 😉

      2. I posted the photo of the gorgeous cabbage on Instagram, not the blog. Are you on Instagram?
        We didn’t finish Lab Girls and will probably have to wait another month ourselves until it becomes available again on Overdrive.

      3. No, I had to draw the line at IG, or I’d be online all day and never post anything but pictures. Twitter, Rav, and blogs 🙂

      4. Oh, and Pinterest. That’s a bit of a photographic timesink right there! But I find it a great place to store recipes, construction projects, and general inspiration 🙂

  2. Pick our first tomatoes last weekend. I planted very early here in Pennsylvania. April 1st to be exact. They were planted next to the house and I had to cover them a few times due to a few cold evenings. It was well worth it. Can’t wait to try your recipe. Enjoy your blog.

  3. Nice! This looks so easy and fast. I hadn’t thought about adding mozzarella chunks. And the tomato shots are wonderful!

  4. What beautiful tomatoes. So far only my Romas are ripe but can’t wait for my bigger tomatoes to be ready. I saw a great tip at a recent Whole Foods demonstration at the Brentwood Library for preparing tomatoes for a fresh sauce. Cut a large tomato in half and grate on a box grater directly into your bowl. Takes only a few seconds before you are left with only the skin left in your hand. Use for an uncooked sauce or your quickly cooked sauce.

  5. This looks awesome. As soon as the Jersey tomatoes come in – next week- I’m going to make me some.

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