Monday, August 27, 2012

Marinara Sauce: The Recipe

Pasta is the perfect dish to serve for a large group-- a big pot of noodles, a big pot of sauce, and a big bowl of salad can please even the pickiest crowd. For this week's recipe, I will attempt a basic marinara sauce from scratch and serve it with some spaghetti, meatballs, tempeh balls, salad, and a grapefruit granita for dessert.

Marinara is a simple sauce but ultra useful. High-quality, non-sugar-laden sauces can run upwards of $8 for a 24-ounce jar (ahem... Rao's). Considering the fact that it's basically just some inexpensive veggies, herbs, and olive oil, manufactured tomato sauce might just be the second biggest food rip-off ever (of course, the gold medal goes to movie theater snacks).

I was shocked by the lack of basic Marinara recipes I found in my cookbook collection. However, hope was restored when I found out that Consumer Reports had dubbed Giada de Laurentiis the "Sauce Boss" based on her Tomato Basil Marinara. I trust Consumer Reports, I trust Giada, and I trust things that rhyme, so the Sauce Boss recipe made the cut with one caveat. I nixed the basil so any herb can be substituted for it (or not) depending on the cook's personal taste and the other flavors of the meal. Aside from that, I kept it as-is. I don't want to mess with the boss!

This is only a tiny amount of the huge batch this recipe will make


The Recipe: Marinara Sauce, adapted from Giada de Laurentiis on the Food Network 
Yield: 2 quarts (64 ounces)
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 32-ounce cans whole tomatoes (not drained)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
Preparation:
  • In a large, non-reactive pot, heat the oil over medium-high flame. 
  • Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the celery, carrots, salt, and pepper.
  • Saute until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
  • Crush the tomatoes by hand to your desired consistency and add to the pot.
  • Add the bay leaves and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour.
  • Remove the bay leaves and season with more salt and pepper to taste.
Time to Memorize: 2 days

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