Meatless Gravy (Marinara Sauce)

Some more preparation for the family get-together for my Mom’s and Niece’s birthday and their favorite entrees.  You’ve seen the crepe recipe but you can’t have Manicotti without gravy.  This particular gravy recipe is meatless and is also referred to as marinara.

As I’ve mentioned before it takes a few steps to prepare the Manicotti, so I’m making the gravy a few days in advance too.  The gravy can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator or freezer (depending on the length of storage time needed) and there is no change in texture or flavor.  This gravy recipe can also be used with any pasta you like or any recipe that calls for a tomato gravy.


Meatless Gravy (Marinara Sauce)


  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped (try using a Vidalia onion when in season for a nice flavor; need to use more though)
  • 1 – 2 stalks celery hearts, finely chopped (add a few chopped celery leaves for additional flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or more to taste
  • 2 cans 28 ounce your favorite crushed tomatoes (the cans can have added tomato puree and basil too)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup water
  • 1 – 2  tablespoons dry basil to taste
  • 1 – 2  tablespoons dry flat leaf parsley to taste


Step 1:  Add the onion and celery to a large stock pot and sprinkle with salt.  Cover pot and heat on medium for 15 to 20 minutes until the water that has sweated out from the onions and celery has started to dry up and they’ve softened.  Stir the mixture frequently with a wooden spoon to prevent it from sticking.

Step 2:  Add the crushed tomatoes to the stock pot and scrape as much of the tomatoes out of the can as possible.  Add the water to one of the empty cans and swirl it around the sides to ensure all the tomatoes are incorporated into the water.  Pour the water into the second can and repeat; then pour the water into the stock pot.  Add the basil and parsley and stir until well combined.

Step 3:  To store the Guacamole, cover with plastic wrap and ensure that the plastic wrap is placed directly on the mixture and that there are no or few air gaps; then chill in the refrigerator.  Fresh Guacamole doesn’t keep well, so it should be made only about an hour before it is served.

Step 4:  Let the mixture come to a simmer.  Lower the heat to low to medium-low and cover.  Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour while stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking.

To store the gravy:  Once completely cooled, this can be stored in containers in the refrigerator for three or four days.  If storing in the freezer, be sure to use freezer safe containers and leave enough space for expansion.

This gravy is very versatile and you can add different flavors.  If you like spiciness you can add some crushed red pepper.  Some like to add some sugar or wine instead of water.  My husband’s family adds a can of tomato paste, so find what works for you.  Also, if you’re cooking for a large number of people, you can easily double the recipe.


My family recipe.

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