Cooking Adventures

Homemade Marinara

Once in awhile, we all have to do that fridge stock-check, don’t we? And to our horror, we would discover some food forgotten in the icy depths of our home fridge.

I’m usually quite conscious of what I put in my fridge (i.e. I only buy ingredients that I’m quite sure that will be cooked soon) but I guess I do lose track once in awhile, hence the need to do a fridge stock-check like everyone else!

So what do we do when we unearth them again? (I’m referring to those food items that are still good to use)…

…Get inspired to cook them of course!

It so happened that I found a stash of frozen mussels and prawns, which were meant for a dinner party. As the dinner party was later cancelled, I forgot about it. I also found a neglected jar of anchovies, which I had only used once for another recipe.

I gave these items an apprehensive sniff but they didn’t seem to have gone bad. So staring at these ingredients, I pondered what I could do with them…

The 1 & only Seafood Marinara that I was looking forward to try!
And then the memory of this came flooding back…

Oh that memory of marvellous mussels and scampi! Of course, I didn’t have scampi but prawns could very well do the trick. So I googled for some recipes for Marinara pasta and found one that even used anchovies! Yay!

So off I went to get my canned tomatoes and parsley (I already had the other ingredients) and I was all set to go!

Tadah! My homemade version of Pasta Marinara!

Believe it or not, this simple recipe actually did bring me a little closer to Vernazza

From freezer to the table 😉

Of course, there was a distinct difference in using canned tomatoes in this recipe versus the fresh tomatoes used for the one in Vernazza. But apart from that, I was quite happy with my homemade Marinara sauce – Ann tried some and she liked it too!

I find that the anchovies actually aided to bring down the sourness of the tomatoes and gave it that oily and salty edge. The white wine gave the sauce more body with its fruitiness. And although the seafood was frozen, when defrosted, there was ample juice left in those mussels and prawn heads, which made the entire pasta very seafoody – scrumptious!

This goes to show the quality of the seafood that was bought – I got them from Queen Victoria Market, my favouritest food market ever.

**edit I forgot to mention that I added chillies as well, just for that extra oomph! I liked the spicy tang that it gave to the marinara sauce but if you don’t like your food spicy, feel free to omit it. 

Guess what was lunch for me the next day?

The only hard part of this recipe is scrubbing and debearding the mussels – the cooking itself only took 15minutes!

Despite it being a seafood pasta, the cost of these ingredients is also not expensive. You can easily get mussels at $6/kg and prawns at $13/kg at the market. The other ingredients don’t cost much at all!

Okay here is the recipe!

Homemade Marinara (serves 4)

Recipe adapted from


  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Chillies – I added about 6 chilli padis but you can add as many as you want, according to your threshold for spiciness! 
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped OR 1 tbp of minced garlic
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 2 x 400g canned tomatoes
  • 200ml white wine
  • 500g spaghetti
  • 1kg mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 300g prawns, with the heads on
  • few stalks of parsley, to tear over the pasta later

Method (I’ve  pretty much stuck to the original recipe but just listing it here for your conveninence) 

  • Heat olive oil over the pan. Fry the garlic and anchovies until the anchovies have melted.
  • Just when the anchovies are about to melt or have melted, you can add in the chillies at this point.
  • Add canned tomatoes and wine to the pan. Bring it to a simmer for about 20minutes and let the sauce reduce.
  • In the meantime, cook your pasta in a pot of boiling water with salt. Once it’s cooked, drain the hot water and wash under cold water for awhile to prevent it from sticking. Toss through some olive oil for extra flavour.
  • Add mussels to the pan of sauce and cook them through until the shells open up. Add in the prawns. If the sauce is starting to look dry, add some water from the pot that you have used to cook your pasta – do add the water slowly to not dilute the sauce.
  • Once the seafood has cooked, serve up your pasta and scoop your sauce over. Serve with the torn parsley!

Sounds easy and yummy? Well, it is! I reckon this is a freezer(as per my experience, the seafood can be kept for 2 weeks)-and-weeknight-friendly dinner. So if you’re in the mood for some fine Italian food but too lazy to go out, this might fit the bill!

So there we go – one recipe that saved my once-forgotten freezer stash! And one that fed me well too – whoop!

2 thoughts on “Homemade Marinara

    1. Thx Lena! Just jumped onto your blog and your photos are great too! I realised I forgot 1 ingredient so I’ve just updated this post. Thx for stopping by 🙂


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