Love Your Tomato Sauce Leftovers

April 22, 2014 | Permalink

This post is written by Nick Evans, food blogger at and author of the new cookbook, Love Your Leftovers.

When many people think of marinara sauce, they probably have the same thoughts that I have. Let me paint you a picture:

An Italian grandmother stands in her centuries old kitchen, stirring a huge pot of sauce that has been simmering for the better part of the day. She tastes, sprinkles in herbs and seasonings, and continues to stir. Eventually, after many hours, it’s perfect and she serves it up in big ladles to her picture-perfect Italian family.

Unfortunately, that’s not the world that most of us live in. We have these things called jobs and they take up a lot of our time. It’s rare that anyone has the time to stir a pot of sauce for five hours.

That said, I do believe that we can all cook good tomato sauce from scratch… even on a weekday!

My new cookbook, Love Your Leftovers, includes 14 chapters, each one centering on a common leftover. Each chapter starts by showing you how to make the central dish (roast chicken, black beans, bread, etc.) and then expanding on that leftover and using it in a bunch of different recipes.

It’s a great way to think about meal planning because you can make a few large batches of things when you have the time and then use the extras in quick recipes later in the week!

To give you all an idea of how this works, I want to talk about marinara sauce.

While there is a recipe in the book for the Italian Grandmother marinara sauce, it’s really only realistic on the weekends. But, I also include a recipe for what I call my cheater’s marinara sauce.

This sauce is great because you can make it in the same amount of time it takes to cook your pasta! So there’s really no excuse not to try it and the flavors and clean, fresh, and wonderful.

Cheater’s Marinara Sauce

Servings: Makes 3 cups

Total time: 15-20 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (opt.)
  • Pinch of salt and pepper


1) Add olive oil to a medium pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add onions and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

2) Add diced tomatoes along with garlic powder, oregano, red pepper flakes (if you’re using it), and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 to 15 minutes. Mash the tomatoes lightly with a spoon or fork as sauce cooks to help speed up the process.

3) When sauce is thick and cooked down slightly, serve over warm pasta and garnish with Parmesan cheese and/or fresh basil. Optionally, you can also add pasta straight from the water to the sauce and toss to mix together.

4) Store leftover sauce for other recipes in the chapter!


The marinara chapter then continues with about ten other recipes that feature leftover marinara sauce!

Here’s an example and one of my favorite quick meals from the chapter.

Open-Faced Italian Sandwiches


Servings: 2

Total time: 15 minutes

  • 1 loaf rustic Italian bread
  • 3/4 cup marinara sauce
  • 8 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


1) Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

2) Cut loaf of bread in half horizontally. Top each half with a good smear of marinara sauce. Add sliced cheese on top of marinara sauce, along with any other toppings. Season with salt and pepper.

3) Bake sandwich until bread is toasted and cheese is melted and bubbly, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool slightly before servings.

For recipes like this one, there are a ton of fun toppings that you can add to your sandwich. Throughout the book, when possible, I like to list variations and topping ideas.

Here’s the table of some of my favorite Italian sandwich toppings!




This is just the beginning of what you can do with leftover marinara sauce (grandmother or cheater variety) not to mention what you can do with many other leftovers that are most likely languishing in your fridge!

Try out these recipes and learn to love your leftovers!


Recipes reprinted with permission from Love Your Leftovers.




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