Thursday, December 8, 2011

get saucy

The weather is finally  getting cold, which meant today made for a great cold weather gear run with Jill. When I got back I was super hungry and in the mood for something warm and substantial. Luckily, I made a small pot of marinara sauce over the weekend as I so patiently caramelized those onions.

I am a total pasta lover, so making my own marinara is one of those things I do fairly often, but I never feel like its quite right. Tasty, but somethings off. Well, I think I figured out my issue... patience. That's the theme of the week. Great sauce doesn't take special ingredients or some magic formula It takes simmering AKA time. This marinara is the best I've made in recent memory. This makes only about a quart, so double, triple, etc as needed. Definitely worth it to make a big amount and freeze for later use on pasta, as bolognese sauce, or in any other preparation.

Here we go.

Basic Marinara 
(about 1 quart)

1/4 cup EVOO 
small onion, finely chopped 
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped 
2 celery stalks, finely chopped 
1 32-oz can crushed tomatoes 
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes 
1 dried bay leaf 
salt (about 1/4 tsp) 
pepper (about 1/4 tsp)
rind of Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic to pot and saute for about 10 minutes. The onions should be translucent. 

2. Add celery, carrots, salt, and pepper. Saute another 10 minutes or until veggies are soft. You could also add a dash of hot pepper flakes here. Note: Use a food processor to chop the veggies if you don't want chunks in your sauce. 

3. Add both cans of tomatoes. If you don't like chunks in your sauce, simply omit the diced tomatoes. If you like a thinner sauce I suppose you could try water or canned tomato sauce to thin it out.

4. Add bay leaf and Parmesan cheese rind and simmer for at least an hour. The sauce will thicken. If it seems to be thickening too much, leave the top on the pot with a crack for steam to escape from.  The rind can be removed at any time. It will add a subtle nuttiness to the sauce but is by no means necessary. It's a great thing to use that leftover rind for though!

5. Serve over pasta, freeze, add to saut√©ed ground beef for meat sauce, or on pizza. 

This is a thick marinara with very concentrated flavor. It was great tossed with pasta, spinach, and chicken sausage tonight for dinner and if all goes according to plan, it will top a pizza this weekend. We will see! When breaking the sauce out of the fridge, you can always use a little pasta water to thin it out (use the pasta water for the starch).

Off to work in a few, then its the weekend! On deck tomorrow? A bar tending class- because who doesn't need to know how to mix a good drink?

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