Monday, January 31, 2011

Homemade Marinara Sauce

Making your own marinara could not be easier.  Its such a versatile product, too.  You can use it for any pasta dish, a soup base, or just for dipping bread.  I made it for lasagna.  I'll post that recipe later. 

Heat some olive oil in a medium sauce pan and saute some minced garlic and minced onions until they are soft and translucent.

Then add the tomatoes.  You can use fresh Roma tomatoes (those seem to have the right flavor and texture for marinara) or canned tomatoes.  I used some tomatoes that I canned from my garden last summer.  Either open the cans or chop them up fresh.

Ideally, you would use fresh herbs, but since its hard to come by good, fresh herbs in the winter time, the dried stuff will make a fine substitute.  Add a tablespoon of dried oregano.
And a tablespoon of dried basil.

You'll need some salt.

And some sugar.  This helps to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes and brings out their natural sweetness.

Crack in some pepper while you're at it.

I forgot to pick up my camera for the next ingredient because I got a little flustered when I discovered that I didn't have it...  the ingredient, that is.  Its red wine, by the way.  Normally, I would add about 1/2 -1 cup of a good spicy Cabernet (depending on how naughty I was feeling), but to my dismay, I discovered that I must have drunk it all.  Not all at once, mind you.  That would be irresponsible.  I have children, you know. 

Anyhow, I came up with a decent substitution on the fly.  I added about 2 teaspoons of beef bullion powder to give the sauce some heartiness and about 1/4 cup of cooking sherry.  I wanted that alcoholic bite that the wine would have lent to the sauce, but I didn't want it to taste too vinegary (as sherry can sometimes be).  It worked out.

Give that a good stir and bring it to a boil.  It should look a little something like this.
Cover the pot and reduce the heat to simmer.  Let that happen for about an hour, stirring occasionally.  After an hour the sauce will have reduced and the tomatoes should have broken down a bit and it will look a little like this.
   Give it a taste and adjust the seasonings at this point.  If its too tangy, add some sugar.  If its too mild, add some more wine.  Do whatever you like. 

If you like a chunky sauce, you're done!

But I decided that I wanted a smooth sauce so I went one step further.  And it was also a good excuse to use my nifty immersion blender.
You can also transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor and blend until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. 

This is what I was going for.  Smooth. 

Now use this sauce to make some spaghetti, or lasagna.  Add it to some vegetable soup for a deeper flavor.  Dip some bread in it or try it as a pizza sauce.  Oooohh, or cook some meatballs in it.  That would be gooood. 

I used mine to make lasagna.  I'll be posting that recipe soon. 


Marinara Sauce

2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes or about 6-7 fresh Roma tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 of one onion, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dried oregano OR 3 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp dried basil OR 3 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 c strong red wine OR 2 tsp beef bullion and 1/4 c cooking sherry

Saute garlic and onions in olive oil.  Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.  Adjust seasonings if necessary and blend until smooth if desired.

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