Classic Marinara Sauce

Marinara Saucen

I’ve been making homemade sauce for twenty years now and I generally stick to what I know and don’t really follow any recipes however, when I came across this recipe for Classic Marinara Sauce in one of my new cookbooks I had to give it a try. The original recipe is from The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook  by America’s Test Kitchen which is an excellent cookbook if you’re looking for heart healthy cooking ideas plus some new and interesting ways to prepare your vegetables, pastas and meats.

What I really liked about this recipe was the way they had you cook down the tomatoes until they were nicely browned and concentrated. This step, combined with the red wine, allowed the sauce to develop a really nice, rich, complex flavor that was simply perfect! I used a Merlot in this recipe but feel free to use whatever red wine that you have on hand, any wine is better than no wine! Because the sauce is somewhat thick and chunky adding a little of the pasta water to the finished meal really helped to give it the perfect consistency. It made just the right amount of sauce for one and half pounds of pasta however, if you like a more heavily sauced pasta, I’d stick with a pound. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 (28 oz) cans whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp minced fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3 tbs chopped fresh basil
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • pinch of granulated sugar

Instructions

Drain the tomatoes in a fine-mesh strainer that is set over a large bowl. Using hands, open the tomatoes and remove the fibrous core, discard. Let the tomatoes drain for about 5 minutes. Reserve 3/4 cup of the tomatoes separately. Reserve 2 1/2 cups of the drained tomato juice, discard the rest.

Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a 12″ skillet over medium, heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened and lightly browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the remaining drained tomatoes (keep the 3/4 cup of tomatoes set aside) and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid has been evaporated and the tomatoes begin to brown and stick to the pan, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Stir in the red wine and cook until thick and syrupy, about 1 minute. Stir in the reserved tomato juice, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the reserved uncooked tomatoes to the sauce and transfer to a food processor (or use a handheld immersion blender) and pulse 8-9 times or until slightly chunky. Return the sauce to the skillet and add in the basil, remaining 1 tbs of olive oil, salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

When tossing with the pasta, add some of the pasta cooking water as needed to adjust the consistency of the sauce.

Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce

Quick Saucen

Growing up in an Italian household homemade tomato sauce was a given, I didn’t even know what “jar sauce” was as a kid. But really good tomato sauce takes time and sometimes time is the last thing I have. So when I need sauce in a pinch, whether it be for a pasta meal or to just toss on some meatball heroes, I make this Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce. It’s done in only minutes and it tastes great, far better and fresher than any jar sauce in my opinion.

You can use a can of regular crushed tomatoes in this recipe but I find that using really good quality tomatoes is actually better since the sauce doesn’t have hours to simmer and develop flavor. I like to use a can of whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes, I just give them a quick squeeze to crush them up before adding to the pan. They are excellent and with the addition of just a few choice ingredients, you have a delicious tasting and quick sauce perfect for whatever Italian dish you’re serving up. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup grated onion
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • Handful of fresh chopped basil
  • 1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

Melt butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add parsley, salt and pepper and cook another 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute.

Add to the pan the crushed tomatoes and sugar. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer . Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the sauce from the heat and add in the fresh basil and olive oil. Adjust seasonings and serve.

**Tip – This can be used as the base for a slow cooking “Sunday Sauce” as well. Start by browning one pound of sweet or hot sausage (removed from the casings) in a little oil. Remove the sausage from the pan leaving the fat behind. Skip the butter and sauté the onions in the sausage fat. Add in the spices and garlic and after sautéing for a minute, add in 1/2 – 1 cup of good red wine to deglaze the pan. Cook until most of the alcohol is burned off. Continue to follow the steps above allowing the sauce to simmer for 2-3 hours, or longer, for best flavor.**