Thursday, February 2, 2012

Homemade Marinara Sauce

Italian food brings pure joy. For me, it reminds me of my mom's spaghetti, pizza nights with friends, and our honeymoon in Rome. I've created tons of variations of Italian foods, and they always make me feel cozy and comfy. It doesn't hurt that this sauce requires wine, and that means we drink what we don't use!

Homemade Marinara Sauce
Makes about 8 cups
Marinara madness!

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 28-ounce cans plum tomatoes (can use tomato sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 7 minutes). Add the garlic and cook another minute or two.

Meanwhile (if you're using the plum tomatoes), use a food processor to puree the tomatoes to the texture of your choosing. [I like the tomatoes a little rough to add more texture, but if you like smooth sauce, just go with the cans of tomato sauce and make your life a little easier.] Add the tomatoes to the onion and garlic. Also add the oregano, parsley, red wine, salt, and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or more. Add the fresh basil toward the end of cooking to throw in a boost of fresh flavor. 

Serving Suggestions
Other Notes about Marinara
  • Taste, taste, taste! Check the flavor of the sauce throughout the cooking process. You'll know what it needs according to your palate. One of the reasons I love cooking is because, as opposed to baking, you can check for flavor throughout the process instead of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.
  • It's better the next day. I love making marinara the day before (or two days before!) I eat it. My mom taught me this one - it just gives the flavors more time to marry.
  • You can add just about anything. This recipe is your absolute basic marinara, but you can add carrots, celery, fennel, mushrooms, diced zucchini, bell peppers, etc. Add your extra vegetables after you cook down the onion and let them get tender before adding the tomatoes. I also love to add spinach, but I cook it down in a separate pan and add it toward the end.
  • Keep leftovers separate. Instead of throwing all the pasta in the pot with the sauce, ladle out your sauce. This way, your pasta/vegetables won't get soggy overnight. Also, serving this way helps you control your serving sizes!
  • It freezes perfectly! Keep a few cups in your freezer to pull out for a busy weeknight meal. I've also heard of folks freezing sauce in ice cube trays so that they only have to pull out a little at a time, rather than defrosting a huge container.

What's your favorite recipe that calls for marinara? Share below; I'd love to try it!


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