Marinara is so easy, you’ll never buy it again

I love pasta with marinara sauce. It’s a staple for most vegetarians because it’s filling, easy and cheap. But, most people buy their marinara sauce already made. I did that for a while and then realized how easy it would be make my own, so I started saving my leftover jars and set about making my own sauce.

There are three basic ingredients to marinara sauce: tomatoes, basil, garlic. It doesn’t really matter how you add them (fresh, dried, canned, frozen, roasted, etc..), just that they’re all there.

Basil

Roma Tomatoes

Below is how I make mine.

I start with some kind of aromatic just to bulk up the recipe and give it a sweet flavor. This time it was Florida-grown bell peppers and red onions. They don’t need to be cut up any special way, just so long as they have enough surface area to get some color on the outside. I began by sauteeing all of the peppers and onions until they had released all of their water and it had evaporated out. Once it evaporates everything will begin to stick to the pan – this is a good thing, but you have to be careful.

Aromatics

Keep caramelizing as long as you have patience and time to make sure they don’t burn, at which point I like to add some tomato paste. The paste gives the whole sauce a bit more body while providing something else to caramelize. As soon as it begins it burn (or you run out of patience) I add a liberal amount of balsamic vinegar. This is not something that a lot of people do – opting for adding it at the end – but I like to add more than normal and allow it to reduce to concentrate the flavor.

Goodbye BPA

Sidenote: I used up the last of my canned tomato products. I used to make all of my marinara sauce with canned organic tomatoes, but will all of the evidence suggesting just how bad Bisphenol A is for you, I’ve recently switched to fresh only and I have no intention of switching back.

Sauteed with Paste

At this point, you can add everything else you want in one step. I added my basil, stirred to wilt, added my roma tomatoes and topped it with several heaping spoonfuls of roasted garlic. Stir everything to incorporate and let it simmer for a while. As it simmers, the tomatoes will release a lot of water, essentially poaching everything and enhancing the natural sugars in the tomatoes. At some point – and you’ll know when – you need to blend everything to your desired consistency. You can do this with a blender, food processor or my favorite: an immersion blender.

Add Basil

Everything Ready To Be Blended

I used to spend a long time chopping, dicing and chiffonading everything in my sauce. And then I got an immersion blender. Now I can make two gallons of sauce in about thirty minutes and it comes out every bit of good as before – sometimes better. If you want a little more texture you can reserve the sauteed onions and peppers or fresh tomatoes to add them after you blend.

Once everything is blended and seasoned (usually just salt, black pepper and maybe some dried Italian seasonings) let it simmer for fifteen minutes and turn off. You’re ready to go – see, I told you it was easy.

The seals on my jar are starting to give up on me as well as starting to rust on the inside, so I no longer try to seal them. Instead, I cool down the marinara sauce and put it in the sanitized (through the dishwasher) jars with a piece of plastic wrap and lid on top. I then put them in the freezer and pull them out the day before I plan on using it.

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