Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Make a Mean Marinara

I’d rather starve than eat jarred marinara sauce.

I guess that’s not exactly a PC declaration, but sometimes the truth hurts.

Listen, I don’t judge those who groove on Prego or Ragu. Or eat at McDonald’s. Or go to Dunkin’ Donuts every day. Or buy all of their groceries in the frozen food aisle. Or think “homemade” is a “can of this” mixed with a “package of that.”

That’s just not how I roll.

OK. Maybe I do judge you.

I’m kidding! Calm down.

In my opinion, even the time-strapped have time to make a fabulous marinara. Prep and cleanup is about 10 minutes. The only attention you need to give marinara, besides some love, is occasional stirring as it simmers over majorly low heat so that it doesn’t burn.

And hello those 10 minutes and occasional stirs have a great payoff: You can just pop the finished product in the freezer for those nights when you’re way busy and would perhaps rather go for a frozen dinner (gag) or the drive-thru (ick nast).

And next time you buy a jar of marinara, read the label, particularly the sodium count.

Those numbers are pretty high, aren’t they?

I have a batch of marinara sauce simmering away as we speak. I’m using it for my fabulous stuffed bell peppers tomorrow night. OMG. I can’t wait.

Anyway, I guess you could say I make a Mean Marinara. That’s because it’s super spicy and garlicky. Those are my husband Mark’s two favorite flavors – next to chocolate and beer.

My recipe has a large dose of garlic and hot pepper flakes. It is not for those seeking mild flavors. Of course, you can cut back on those two ingredients if you please and are a major lightweight.

The uses for marinara are endless: Pasta, baked pastas, meat dishes like chicken parmesan, chili, stews, soups, vegetarian dishes like eggplant rolatini, dips for bread sticks and other appies like toasted ravioli. Yum, toasted ravioli.

So check out my recipe. And ditch the jar.

Mean Marinara

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion or half a medium/large onion, finely chopped
8 (yes 8) cloves of garlic, finely chopped
¾ tsp. red pepper flakes (you can cut back this)
1 can Cento pureed tomatoes (28. oz)
1 can Cento crushed tomatoes (28 oz.)
A little bit of water – probably half a cup
20 fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and onion. Sweat the garlic and onion for five minutes. They should be very fragrant.

Push the garlic and onion to one side of the pan and toast the red pepper flakes for a minute. Mix into the garlic and onion.

Add the pureed and crushed tomatoes. Use a little bit of water to rinse off the tomato on the sides of the cans and pour into pot. (We Italians don’t like to waste food!) The water should measure to a half cup.

Add salt and pepper to taste. I did 20 grinds of my pepper mill and a scant 1/4 tsp. salt.

Snip basil leaves into pot with cooking shears.

Turn your heat down to low. Simmer partially covered for 45 minutes. Make sure you stir every 5 to 10 minutes.

Enjoy now or tomorrow or freeze for later on in your life.

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