Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quick, Easy Marinara

Okay, so this is a very quick and easy way to whip up a 'homemade' red sauce, plus it only uses one pot! I made this batch meatless because I wanted to use the leftovers to make pizza tomorrow night. However, you can easily add meat in during the cooking process. If I were to add it, I would use ground turkey- healthier and still adds tons of meaty flavor and texture to an already flavorful sauce.

**Nutrition Noteworthy: Red sauce is an excellent source of nutrients. One reason is because tomatoes contain lycopene, which is most beneficial when it has been cooked. **

First, I will start with your grocery list:

  • 4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or so)
  • 1 small or 1/2 large Onion, diced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (more or less, depending on your preference)
  • 28 oz can of Crushed Tomatoes
  • Any herbs/seasonings you prefer (I like a simple Basil, Oregano, and Thyme combo for red sauce) 

I used a dutch oven, but you can use any heavy bottomed sauce pan or pot you like. Heat the olive oil on a medium setting heat. Then add the diced onion. Stir to coat well with the olive oil.

Then, let them sweat it out on medium or medium-low until they become golden, sweet, and translucent. (About 10 minutes) Like this:

Then add your minced garlic and red pepper flakes at this time. It is important that the garlic is not added any earlier, because when overdone, garlic becomes bitter. We only want to lightly saute it with the onions before we add the liquid- this is how I prevent that tough, bitter garlic taste.

*Side note: This is one of my FAVORITE kitchen toys. I cook with garlic often, so this has made my life so much easier! It is called the 'garlic zoom' and I got it from Williams & Sonoma. Just pop the cloves out of their skins, drop them into the 'zoom', wheel it back and forth a few times like a toy car, and VOILA! ...quick, mess-less, fresh minced garlic!

Okay, back to the sauce- Once, your garlic and red pepper have been sauteing with the onion for about 1 or 2 minutes, dump in the can of crushed tomatoes and your herbs, and give 'em all a good stir. I used fresh thyme and oregano from my little outdoor herb pot, but I used dried basil, since it's winter and my poor little basil plant does not tolerate the cold weather well (Basil does very well during the summer). Dried herbs are just fine, but remember that the dehydrating process condenses the flavor so you will not need to use as much dried herbs as you would use fresh.

Let it all simmer for about 5-10 minutes. I let mine simmer for a few minutes uncovered, and then I finished it out with a lid on because I didn't want it to evaporate and become too thick. However, as usual, you can change it up to your liking. Depending on what you're making it for, or if you just like it super thick and chunky, leave the lid off and let it evaporate and thicken up- but be sure to stir it often if so.

After it is done simmering, give it a little taste and make sure it is just how you want it. Now is the time to add anything else that you think it might need. Maybe some fresh ground pepper, or garlic salt, or maybe even some more herbs :) I liked mine just how it was, so I was finito!

Next time I make red sauce, I might play around with it to make a few variations. Next time, I might add some tomato paste to give it a little more deep and rich flavor. Also, if I were to make it meatless again, I might add a 1/4 or 1/2 cup of red wine (for cooking, I use a cheap, dry bottle of 2 buck Chuck's red Cabernet Sauvignon). The wine can be added in and simmered for a little bit before the tomatoes go in. This might help create some extra depth to substitute for the missing meat. The wine could even be added in with ground meat (again, I like to use Turkey because it is nutritious and still full of flavor in a dish like this). Red wine compliments the meaty flavor and will give it some rich dimension. 

1 comment:

  1. This is a great simple recipe! You are a natural blogger - I love your suggestions on how to alter the recipe, basic cooking tips, and ideas for making the recipe work for two meals. I can't wait to see your next meal.