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What Can You Do with Marinara Sauce?

Mabel Amber on Pixabay

My favorite childhood book was called "What Can You Do with a Shoe?" (beautifully illustrated by the genial Maurice Sendak). The two children in the story ask, "What can you do with a shoe, a chair, a hat…..?" Their answers are inventive and fun.

When I make a large pot of this marinara sauce I ask myself the same question – what can I do with this sauce? My tried and true suggestions follow the recipe.


  • 225 gm spaghetti or your preferred pasta
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • Tomato options:
    1 700 gm bottle passata (with pulp preferred) or
    2 400 gm cans tomatoes or
    10-12 fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup water (preferably from the pasta cooking water)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves (torn or chopped)


  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions in well-salted water. Set aside ½ cup water. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and onion and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant (be careful not to burn it).
  3. Add the diced carrot, bell pepper and zucchini*, sauté another 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, water, dried oregano, dried basil and red pepper flakes if using. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Serve the sauce over cooked pasta and top with torn basil leaves and shaved Parmesan.

*Other vegetables such as diced fennel or frozen peas could be used.

What else you can do with this rich Marinara sauce?

  • Add a handful of good olives and ½ cup of cubed feta cheese just before serving. The cold cheese melts beautifully into the warm sauce. (Skip the Parmesan)

  • Place a piece of cooked salmon (warm or cold) on top of the pasta and add a bit of lemon zest.

  • Serve the marinara sauce over rice.
  • Use the sauce to make a rich vegetarian lasagna.
  • And of course, in a Mediterranean fashion, use the marinara sauce as a base for shakshuka. Simply add a teaspoon of dried cumin and a teaspoon of sweet or spicy paprika.

If you'd prefer a lighter sort of pasta but one with lots of flavor, try this recipe for zoodles.

Kara Peak on Unsplash

Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles)

This yummy dish is surprisingly easy to make, is very low on calories, is gluten free and has almost no carbs. Enjoy it warm or cold.


6 medium-sized zucchini (or green squash)
10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly

6 basil leaves, coarsely chopped

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt, pepper

Grated Parmesan


  1. Wash the zucchinis thoroughly and cut off the stems. Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds and part of the soft insides, leaving about ½ cm all around including the peel.
  2. Slice each zucchini into lengthwise strips (they should resemble thick spaghetti.)
  3. Transfer the zucchini noodles (zoodles) to a large skillet. Add the olive oil, garlic, basil, salt and pepper.
  4. Cook for about 4-5 minutes until the zucchini softens slightly but maintains a crunch. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the cherry tomatoes and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, transfer zoodles to a serving dish and top
    with shaved Parmesan.

Variation: Let the zoodles cool off first and serve as a salad. 

Petr Magera on Unsplash

A Lettuce Salad for Dessert?

In the traditional Italian and French fashion, a lettuce salad is often served after a meal. There are lots of varieties of delicious hydroponically grown lettuce available in supermarkets everywhere.

Classic Vinaigrette


3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon water

3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) extra-virgin olive oil

Lettuce and other greens such as arugula (rocket)


  1. In a jar, put a pinch of salt and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Add the red wine vinegar, French mustard and water. Shake well.
  3. Add the olive oil. Shake everything together until the vinaigrette is well emulsified.
  4. Pour over the lettuce and toss just before serving.

Note: Classic vinaigrette dressing is versatile. You can experiment by adding herbs, spices, honey or citrus juice to customize the flavor to your liking.

Watermelon for Dessert Instead?

If the idea of a lettuce salad after a meal doesn't appeal to you, simply serve some ice cold watermelon. 



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Thursday, 18 July 2024

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