Cook / Main Dishes / Sauces & Dressings

Easy Homemade Marinara & Cheater Lasagna

These recipes looked so simple and yummy, I had to try them for myself – and of course, put my own spin on it! I was impressed at the simplicity and flavor of this marinara sauce, as well as the cheater lasagna.

Marinara Sauce
2 Tbs olive oil
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
2 carrots
6-8 basil leaves
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 small sprig oregano
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp salt (more or less, depending on your personal tastes)
1 or more Tbs sugar **please see Meditate note below**
3 15 oz can diced tomatoes

Cheater Lasagna
1/2 lb broken lasagna noodles, any small or medium pasta will do, about 1/2 inch in size
1/2 cup boiling water, reserved from your pasta pot
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (great substitute if you don’t like ricotta: 4 Tbs cream cheese, 1/3 cup sour cream)
6-8 basil leaves
3/4 cup shredded Romano cheese
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig oregano
1/8 cup flat leaf parsley
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Remove the paper the outer layer from the onions and garlic. Slice the onion in half. Clean two carrots and remove the ends, cut in half. Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Place the carrots, garlic and onion (cut side down) in the hot oil. When the onion starts to form a caramel color, add in all remaining ingredients. Leave the thyme and oregano leaves on their stems. Mix well, being careful not to break apart the onion.

Lower heat to medium low. Cover with a splatter screen but DO NOT put a lid on the pot. Allow to cook 30 minutes. Using tongs, remove everything except the tomato sauce. Salt and pepper to your liking.


Cheater Lasagna
After your sauce is going, boil a pot of water for pasta – salt the water well. Mix all other ingredients except water in a small bowl. When the pasta is cooked to al dente, turn off the heat. Remove 1/2 cup of boiling pasta water, then drain the pasta (if you forget to reserve the pasta water, simply heat a 1/2 cup of water to boiling in the microwave). Return pasta to the pot, then mix in cheese/herb mixture. Slowly add in the pasta water to distribute the cheese mixture.

Grease an 8×8 glass pan. Pour pasta into the pan. Cover with marinara sauce. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until bubbly on the sides. Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.


Next time you purchase marinara sauce at the store, take 1 minute and to the label and think about what it says. If you are use to eating prepared marinara sauce from a jar, you might be surprised how much sugar and salt is in that jar. Commercial sauces are loaded with sugar and salt. If you’re trying to achieve store-bought flavor, you’ll want to add 2-4 tablespoons of sugar, and nearly double the listed amount of table salt. I like to add 1 Tbs of sugar – it adds a mild sweetness to the sauce without overbearing the natural flavor of the tomatoes.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

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