RECIPE: Varenna Marinara Italian Sauce

I’ve been in Varenna Italy for 3 weeks now on a wellness retreat, exploring new foods, new culture and inspiring restaurants.  I’m pretty sure it’s going to take more than a few weeks to instill the centuries deep culinary expertise of this country, but I’ve made an Americanized version (i.e. quick, easy, but still delicious) of marinara sauce, without stealing any secret family recipes.  It’s almost an insult to good slow cooked Italian marina, that this is so simple and still so good.


1 can tomatoes (Yes, I said CAN; though I bet 4 ripe heirloom organic tomatoes chopped would work as well)

1 chopped/cubbed zucchini (I cut it longways twice then chopped it perpendicular to create little cubes)

1 garlic clove, chopped

1/4 red onion, chopped

a shake or two (or ten, if-a-you-lika-de-spice-a) of red pepper flakes

2-3 Tbsp good olive oil

salt and pepper to taste (~ 1/4 tsp each)


Add oil, garlic and onion to a sauté pan on med heat whilst you chop the zucchini (which is Italian for zucchini, BTW) and open the can or chop the tomatoes (pomodoro in Italian)stirring occasionally, then add tomatoes and turn down heat to medium low and slow cook the sauce for 10-15 minutes.

Depending on how crunchy/chunky you like your sauce, add zucchini in with tomatoes or later (crunchier) remembering, other than tomatoes, the longer you cook your veggies, the less nutritionally dense they become!

serve over greens, pasta or as a dip or soup.

Buon Appetito!

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Madeleine Vanstory attended Duke University and began her post-graduate journey at The Elaine Clark Center working with special needs children. She went on to work as a Clinical Research Scientist running clinical trials for the CDC and developing medical devices for Welsh Allen, Abbot Labs, Roche and Johnson & Jonhson Her work included non-invansive cervical cancer detection, continuous diabetic glucose monitoring, non-harmful infant bilirubin level detection and studying Vitamin C's anti-aging effects on the skin. Madeleine attended Medical school at The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and completed a residency in Family Medicine at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro NC. Dr. Madeleine Vanstory is a board certified Family Physician who has practiced all over the world. She has lead medical missions in Kenya and Honduras. She has participated with Operation Smile in Russia, she has patients in North Carolina, Maine, Oregon and New Zealand. Dr. Vanstory has worked the medical tents in the Marine Corps marathon in Washington DC and at the Kona Ironman World Championships. And Dr. Vanstory has marched with the Surgeon General promoting "Exercise is Medicine" at the World Congress Sports Medicine Conference. Disillusioned by the current health care system and armed with the realization that culture, nutrition and emotional well-being have a profound impact on health, Dr. Vanstory now motivates clients and patients to discover the healthiest versions of themselves through humor, counseling in her "Upgrade Your Health" Wellness Program.

3 thoughts on “RECIPE: Varenna Marinara Italian Sauce

      1. I don’t know! But I listed a recipe for homemade tomato soup that we just loved. Then I made it again out of jarred tomato sauce since we ran out of the sauce that I canned. Didn’t love it. Had to add some sweetener and roasted red peppers. Made me realize for real that all my recipes are going to taste different depending on the ingredients used!~~Terri

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