Friday, June 18, 2010

Perfect marinara sauce

Here’s a blast from the past for you: my second-ever blog entry. Cute, right? When I first started this thing almost two years ago, I had no idea what I was doing with it. If anything, I figured it’d be my food diary, a place where I'd record my daily noshings as well as my random thoughts, ideas, or curiosities about food. Within a few short months, I’d begun posting recipes with step-by-step photos accompanying the instructions, interspersed with posts about eating out or road tripping. It evolved very organically (no pun intended), and though it’s become so much more than I expected initially, I’m nothing but proud of how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown as a home cook, vegan, and food blogger in general.

Anyway, back to that second entry. In it, I mentioned growing up eating Ragu Old World Style marinara sauce on all my [nutrient-stripped white] pasta. During and after college, I tried every other jarred marinara on the market, and cooked dozens of my own, but none of them satisfied me like smooth, salty, overprocessed Ragu. Thankfully, I’ve come a long way since I wrote that post, and haven’t cracked open a jar of Ragu in well over a year. Despite numerous hopeful attempts, however, I had yet to find a suitably flavorful, yet fast and easy, recipe for homemade marinara—until now. This sweet, herby, garlicky sauce is a mélange of so many other recipes and techniques that I can only call it my own. So without further ado, I present to quick-and-perfect marinara sauce.

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, roughly chopped
10-12 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic cloves and sauté, stirring often, until softened (about 6-8 minutes). They should be golden and translucent, but not browned. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor.

Add all remaining ingredients except the parsley. (Variation: if you have an open bottle, try replacing the balsamic vinegar with 1/4 cup of fruity red wine!)

Purée until smooth. Add the parsley and pulse until just incorporated. Taste for seasoning, and if the sauce seems a little acidic, feel free to add a tablespoon of agave nectar.

Perfetta! Use immediately, or transfer to a large container and refrigerate for up to a week, or freeze for up to 2 months. Ladle it over any kind of pasta, put it in lasagna, or just use it as a dip for crusty bread. Better yet, make a batch this weekend, stick it in the fridge, and then check back here Monday for the perfect dish to serve it with!

Yield: Half gallon (12 servings). Per serving (about 2/3 cup): 92 calories, 2.8g fat (trace sat), 16.5g carbs, 4g fiber, 3.3g protein.

If you like this, you might also like...
Rotini with walnut sauce (×2)
Spaghetti with raw tomato sauce
Tofu parmigiana alla marinara

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  1. Oooh! I can make this! (I know that sounds odd, but my mother is allergic to tomatoes, so for 23 years I've been unable to make tomato-based pasta sauces. In fact, any pasta really, as it took a long time for good gluten-free pastas to show up here.)

    Also, it really was written in the stars that we'd become friends, because who else would be able to tell you that WHEN you come to Australia, beware the "marinara" title - in Australia, marinara refers to a seafood-filled tomato sauce :)

  2. this looks fabulous! i love a good sauce :)

  3. That's it?????I can't believe how easy this is! I like the 10 to 12 cloves of garlic! and the balsamic vinegar or wine kick. All in all it is a marinara I want to try because i can see so many uses for it~even with poached eggs.

  4. damn girl look at all those sauce linkbacks you're the saucy queen!

    if you make the crackers and fully dehyd them, lmk how it works...I havent the patience. I HATE The sound of the dehyd and use it as little as possible.


  5. SO simple and SO easy! I bet it would freeze well too! :)

  6. Believe it or not, I've never made my own red sauce. I think it's about time to change that! I'll definitely be using your recipe when my crop of tomatoes finally comes in. :)

  7. Looks/sounds perfect. You can't go wrong anytime you're creating with onions and garlic!

  8. Yum! I love making homemade marinara sauce! Your recipe sounds good! :)

  9. Aussie-Hannah—I remember you saying that about your mum; such a shame! But now you can go tomato-crazy, not to mention add nice splashes of red ‘cross the cerulean palette of Smurf Kitchen :]
    And re: "marinara," that is good to know! Given the etymology of the word, it does make perfect sense.

    Fit&40—Ditto! With pizza, pasta, etc. it’s all in the sauce for me.

    tasteofbeirut—The garlic is my favorite part too :D The recipe’s so simple, yet it’s out-of-this-world flavorful. I’d love for you to try it!

    Averie—I’ll let you know! The hardest thing about plan-ahead cooking for me is having to be at work for 9 hours a day, unable to check on or flip anything I’m dehydrating. But sometime soon, when I have a free weekend day...

  10. Kristen—It does! It’s a great thing to have on hand; like tasteofbeirut said, the uses for it are endless.

    Bittersweet-Hannah—That IS hard to believe! I’d love it if you tried my recipe! I bet it’d be divine made with fresh summer tomatoes.

    Cheryl—Agreed; it’s definitely one of the culinary world’s greatest combos.

    Aimee—Thanks! I can hardly believe it took me so long to quit buying jarred sauces when homemade marinara is practically just a can opener away :]

  11. As soon as she was done with it, we ate it with a large french roll and it was superb. I'm a huge fan.

  12. Aw, thanks honey! I like when you comment and confirm the tastiness of a dish, as it helps prove that I'm not just hyperbolically inclined when it comes to food description ;]