Pasta Five Ways

This marinara sauce can be used to make any type of pasta you want by simply adding the vegetable or meat of your choice. Add roasted broccoli, eggplant, ground beef, chicken, shrimp, meatballs, salmon, shrimp, any of your favorite vegetable or meat. You can add one, two or three. The choice is yours. You can pair the sauce with any of your favorite pasta, spaghetti, linquine, fusilli, penne, rigatoni, ziti… Make it even healthier by using multi-grain or wheat pasta.

Want Another Marina Sauce Option?

Simply add finely chopped 1 medium carrot and 1 stalk of celery.

Substitute 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes with:
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes and 14.5 oz of crushed tomatoes.

Ingredient List

1 pound pasta

  • spaghetti, linquine, fusilli, penne, rigatoni, ziti, or your favorite pasta
  • 1 pound of vegetable or meat

    Marinara Sauce

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 medium onion or 2 small onions, finely chopped
    2 medium cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes, optional
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
    1 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (if using dried, 1 teaspoon)
    1 whole dried bay leaf

    kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    1/4 cup chopped parsley
    Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

    Marinara Sauce

    Finely chop the onion. Mince the garlic and chop fresh basil and parsley.

    In a large casserole pot, heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes for spice (optional). Add the basil and or bay leaf. Add the salt and pepper. Add the crushed tomatoes.

    Simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. If using bay leaf, remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.

    Quick Tip: The sauce can be made ahead up to this point. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Re-warm over medium heat before using.

    While the sauce is cooking, prep and cook the meat or vegetable and cook the pasta.

    Cook the pasta by following the instructions on the package until al dente. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl. Do not rinse.

    Add the cooked meat or vegetable to the sauce and continue simmering for 2 to 3 minutes.

    Pour the sauce on top of the pasta, sprinkle chopped parsley. Toss to mix well. Serve it with fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

    Sauce Variations
    Option 1:
    Add 1 medium carrot and 1 stalk of celery (finely chopped) after the onions are cooked until translucent. Sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.

    Option 2:
    Anchovy fillets
    Replace kosher salt with anchovy fillets. Add 2 anchovy fillets (chopped) when hot pepper flakes are added.

    Option 3:
    Ricotta Cheese
    Add 1 cup of ricotta cheese to the marinara sauce right before combining with the cooked pasta.

    Option 4:
    Use diced and crushed tomatoes
    Replace 28 oz of crushed tomatoes with 14.5 oz of diced tomatoes and 14.5 oz of crushed tomatoes.


    Meat & Shrimp Seasoning (1 pound)
    2 teaspoons olive oil*
    1 medium clove garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon fresh basil or flat leaf parsley, chopped
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    *omit olive oil for ground meat, except for ground chicken and turkey breast.

    Vegetable Seasoning (1 pound)
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 medium clove garlic, minced
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    Chicken Breasts
    Cut the chicken breasts into 1/4 inch thin slices. Add olive oil, fresh herbs, garlic, salt and pepper. Pan fry until lightly golden brown on both sides.

    Peel and de-vein the shrimp. Add olive oil, fresh herbs, garlic, salt and pepper. Pan fry until opaque and pink and caramelized on both sides.

    Ground Meat – Beef (lean cut), Ground Veal, Ground Turkey, Ground Chicken
    Season the meat with garlic, salt and black pepper. Heat the olive oil in a pan and cook the meat as you break them apart using a back of a spoon. Drain any excess oil.

    Cut one large eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds) into 1/2 inch cubes.

    Place the eggplant cubes in a bowl, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and toss to coat evenly. LIne a microwave safe bowl with 3 layers of paper towel and place the eggplant cubes evenly. Microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes uncovered. Remove from the microwave and cool for about 4 to 5 minutes. Heat a pan with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the eggplant, 1 medium clove of minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper and cook, stirring constantly. Cook for about 10 minutes until the eggplant cubes are lightly browned.

    Egg plant is especially good with sauce variation options 2 and 3 with ziti, rigatoni or penne pasta.

    Roasted Broccoli
    Preheat the oven to 425℉. Wash and pat dry broccoli florets. Combine the broccoli florets and the vegetable seasonings. Spread the florets evenly in one layer on a lined baking pan. Roast for 10 minutes.

    Additional Meat/ Vegetable Options

    Meatballs: Make your favorite meatballs and add to the marinara sauce.

    Sausage: Cut into bite size pieces, pan fry until done.

    Salmon: Season using the meat seasonings above, cook to medium rare then finish cooking in the marinara sauce.

    Zucchini: Cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and transfer to a colander and let them sweat for 10 minutes. Pan fry with the rest of the vegetable seasonings.

    Asparagus: Cut to bite size, then season and roast at 425℉ for 8-9 minutes.

    Mushrooms: Heat the olive oil on medium high heat, cook the mushrooms until lightly browned on both sides. Add the rest of the vegetable seasons and sauté for another 1 to 2 minutes.