Cooking with Bwog: Marinara and More

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Don't forget the wine!

When the weather sucks, sometimes you need a good comfort food. Bwog’s resident marinara maestro, Matt Powell, found himself craving marinara after a recent monsoon. In this edition of Cooking with Bwog, he teaches us how to make the simple sauce, and offers a lamb ragú with a topping of minted ricotta for the more advanced pupil—perfect for dealing with chilly April days!

The Basics: Marinara Sauce

Makes about 1 quart (enough for 3-4 servings of pasta)


  • ¼ C olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste (I like to add cayenne as well)
  • 1 32-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf


  1. In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, shallot, and garlic. Sauté about 7-10 minutes. Add the carrot, salt, and pepper. Sauté until the vegetables are soft, about 7-10 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaf and simmer (on low heat) until the sauce is reduced and thickened, about 45 minutes. Adjust seasonings and remove the bay leaf before using. You can add oregano and basil as well.

Hardly any wine left!

More Advanced: Lamb Ragú with Minted Ricotta

Serves 4


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 shallots, sliced thinly
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 ½ lb. ground lamb
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¾ C red wine
  • 2 C of Marinara Sauce (recipe above) or good store-bought marinara
  • 1 handful of cherry tomatoes
  • ½ C chopped mint leaves
  • 1 C fresh ricotta cheese
  • Mint leaves for garnish


  1. In a large skillet, warm the oil. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook over high heat for 3 minutes. Add the ground lamb, salt, and pepper. Cook, breaking up the lamb with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook the lamb until it has browned and most of the juices have evaporated.
  2. Add the wine. Simmer until the wine has reduced by half. Add the marinara sauce and tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes, allowing flavors to mesh.
  3. While the ragú cooks, chop the mint and combine with the ricotta cheese. You can also add some parmesan cheese to the mix. Serve the ragú with a dollop of the minted ricotta and mint leaves.

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  1. Anonymous  

    so... the first direction to the marinara is "burn your garlic"?

  2. Help?  


    Could you tell us (those who know nothing about cooking) how we can make easier dishes than this? I think it would be a useful and popular feature for you all. How to make very easy, decent, simple, cheap meals. I wouldn't even know how to find half of the ingredients on that list.

    For example, how to microwave potatoes...

    • Anonymous  

      wow, this makes me sad.

    • Claire  (Bwog Staff)

      Come on pal, http://bwog.com/2010/11/12/cooking-with-bwog-iron-chef-edition/" rel="nofollow">duck fat is one thing, but carrots?

    • Brought up on some serious Italian food

      Don't worry-- a real Italian tomato sauce isn't nearly as complicated as this "marinara" (and tastes a thousand times batter). All you need is olive oil, garlic, pepperoncini, canned tomatoes and an herb of some sort. Cover the bottom of a pan with olive oil, add a couple chopped garlic cloves. when the garlic just begins to turn color toss in a healthy sprinkling of pepperoncini, a can of san marzano tomatoes (the cherry tomatoes are better if you can find them) and enough water to fill about 1/4 of the can you just emptied. Crush any large tomato pieces with a wooden spoon. Simmer until you think it's the right consistency (it should not be watery but nowhere near as weirdly gloopy as, say, John Jay/ jarred marinara sauce), add whatever herb you have lying around (basil, oregano... you only need one) and there you have it.

  3. sigh  

    why bother when westside sells a hugeass jar for $1.25

  4. Show some love

    This looks freaking delicious. Definitely trying the lamb ragú.

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