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  • Writer's pictureChristina Gili

Tony's Marinara Sauce

My Dad, Anthony, was an incredible person. Those that knew him well, called him Tony. He was a kind, strong man who loved his family more than anything else. He and my mom had an unbelievable bond, and those who were able to witness it knew the kind of unique love they shared. I cherish the memories I have with my father and am so proud that we continue to honor him with the traditions that were important and special to him.

My dad was an important part of our kitchen and really our lives. My mom, sisters, nephews and niece all had amazing bonds with him.

While I am like my mother in many ways, I do have certain traits of my dad. He was organized, a planner and had a somewhat serious nature with a good spirited sense of humor.

My father’s pride and joy was when we were all together at the family table, enjoying a great meal, having a laugh and maybe even a cry. Either way, he had a huge smile on his face when we were were all together.

He placed his stamp on all of our family dinners. He would set the table which, by the way, took a couple of days to make sure everything was just right. That tradition has been passed onto my sister, Suzanne, who takes as much pride as he did.

My father is missed every day and, while the traditions he helped create live on, they are not the same.

Marinara sauce is an important component in much of the food we eat. It’s used with pasta, pizza, chicken parmesan,…well, you get the idea! So, that said, we make large batches and freeze it so we have it on hand all the time.

While my mom owns her kitchen, my dad had a big influence on our meals, especially when we had celebration dinners. They were a great team and it was wonderful to watch them in action. Tony - aka, Mary's Sous Chef - made the sauce.

When I started this journey a few years ago, I am so thankful I documented his marinara sauce recipe.

Tony’s Marinara Sauce

3 28 oz. cans of tomatoes, crushed

1/4 cup of olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

6 garlic cloves, chopped

12 basil leaves, chopped

3 tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

3 bay leaves

9 sprigs of fresh thyme

3 sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon crushed hot pepper, or as desired

salt to taste

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.

  2. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 8-10 minutes.

  3. Add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes until slightly brown and fragrant.

  4. Add tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the crushed tomatoes, basil, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, oregano, hot pepper and salt.

  5. Raise the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

I store the sauce in containers and freeze in portions.


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Feb 14, 2021

When I look at that photo of Dad, it all comes back. His sweetness, humility, pride in taking care of us. I love making this sauce. It is so simple and after a few times, the recipe is so easy to remember. Just make sure you make a toast to Tony each time. He is watching over your shoulder, telling you you are doing great! That's the kind of man he was.

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