Sunday, September 13, 2015

Basic Marinara Sauce

I have had a lot of friends asking me for my marinara sauce recipe lately because I've been making oodles of it from our garden tomatoes in order to can them and save them for later in the year.  It's very basic and can be adapted to whatever you want.  It's also very versatile in the way you use it (pasta, pizza, dipping sauce, lasagna, whatever you want).  It's also sort of free form, being that I just kind of wing it based on the amount of tomatoes I have to use at the time (we planted 13 tomato plants this year, our harvest has been crazy huge...I've been bringing in between 3 and 5 pounds a day to use up).  But here is a basic how-to on using fresh tomatoes to make marinara sauce. It's safe for canning, and a great way to use your garden veggies.

Basic Marinara Sauce (based on a 3 pound tomato batch)

1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1/2 head of garlic, minced
1-2 bell peppers, chopped
whatever other veggies you want to include, about a cup of each (mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, celery, etc)
3 lbs tomatoes, tops cut off and quartered (skins left on, and seeds intact)
1-2 small cans of tomato paste
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (my Italian friend says no way, but I don't use wine in my cooking, so this is to substitute for that)
handful of fresh basil, if you have it

In a very large (8-10 quarts), heat olive oil, and then add onions and garlic, and cook until tender.  Add bell peppers and other vegetables and cook until slightly softened.  Add tomatoes and seasonings and balsamic vinegar to the pot and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce to a simmer, and continue to simmer on medium low heat for several hours.  After about 1-2 hours, add tomato paste (to thicken) use an immersion blender to puree the sauce.  (If you don't have one of those you can puree it in batches in your blender or food processor, I just find the stick blender is convenient to use directly on the stove top.)   Continue to simmer, the secret to this sauce is not the ingredients, it's the low, slow cooking process.   I usually cook it about 10-12 hours before putting it in jars.

If canning, follow the instructions of how to can tomato sauce.  I looked it up online.  You can also freeze this.  We were able to get about 6 quarts canned from one batch of sauce.

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