Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Marinara Sauce

We eat a lot of pasta in my house. When I say a lot, I mean A LOT. As I've said before I like every meal to have a protein, starch and vegetable. But it usually turns into protein, STARCH and vegetable. The starch (usually pasta and sometimes rice) is like the Justin Timberlake of N'sync, it steals the show. (Wow, isn't that reference a little dated? I should have said something like it being the Snooki of Jersey Shore.) Anyways, you get the gist. We eat a lot of pasta so I was in search of a sauce for the pasta. I was tired of always opening jars of marinara sauce. Like I've said before, I try to stay away processed foods. The reason why I never made a tomato sauce in the past was because I did not want to use canned tomatoes (making tomato puree can be very expensive. With tomatoes about $1.25 lb, the amount you would need to make the sauce would be...I don't want to burden you with the math, but a lot.) One day it just clicked, isn't jarred tomato sauce similar to using canned tomatoes except that I can add all fresh ingredients to the tomatoes? Duh.

So on I was for the search for marinara recipes. I did once try a Michael Chiarello recipe with fresh tomatoes, but it came out much too thin. (I had the urge to comment on Chiarello's recipe to tell him that you can't puree an entire tomato for the sauce, but should only use the pulp to make it thick. I thought maybe it would help take that chip off his shoulder. I know, he came across so friendly in Top Chef Masters, but on his show he's a little too consumed with the Napa Valley lifestyle... off I go again) I remember watching Giada (Now she I like, much more down to earth. Even though some of her dishes are ridiculously simple and I can't believe she's taking the time to show me how to boil water, I still like her) make a marinara sauce once upon a time, so out searching for it I was. The recipe is very simple with little work. The sauce simmers for longer time than it takes to prep!

What I like best about the recipe is that it has carrots, celery and tomatoes in the dish. I puree it when done so when I'm in a pinch I add the sauce (I make excess and freeze) to some pasta and I have a quick meal!

Click here for the original recipe

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium size onion chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt (or more based on taste)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cans (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes (Giada lists 2- 32 ounce cans, but I could not find this. All they have at H-E-B are 28 ounces)
2 dried bay leaves

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until translucent.

2. Add carrots, celery, salt and pepper. Saute all vegetables until soft.

3. Add tomatoes and bay leaves and bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered over low heat for one hour.

4. Once sauce cools, blend in two parts in blender. (You don't have to do this, but I like to blend it all to make a smooth sauce. You can also sneak in some vegetables this way!)

Update (7/25/2011): I made this again and added 1/4 cup Italian parsley along with the tomatoes and it made such a difference in the taste! I highly recommend using the parsley!

Amateur cooking difficulty scale: 3
This one is another easy one. I double the recipe and save it in the freezer in numerous containers. I use it with a meat sauce, meatballs, eggplant parmesan, chicken parmesan, and the list goes on. I usually make it on a day we're having leftovers so I'm not having to make the sauce as well as cooking the main meal.

Obviously I've made this more than once, so I will be making it again!

Does this look easy enough to make? 

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