Marinara, you can do this!
Growing up, sauce was passed around in Polly-O Ricotta containers like it was candy. They were stocked up in the freezer in a way that made you wonder if my Grandma's and Aunt's thought tomatoes might go extinct. We benefited heavily from their well intentioned desire to constantly feed and keep our fridge fully stocked. If love was measured in marinara, then we were truly blessed.
Since sauce was so second nature in my house, I never considered that some people might not realize that making your own is not only the right path to take in life, but it's also super easy, and I really mean super easy. I don't believe there is a holy grail of sauce making, sometimes I use basil, sometimes I use oregano, some times I use an onion, sometimes I don't.... There are many ways to do it and most are quite delicious. All it takes is basic ingredients and a little bit of time. Today I am going to share with you a simple, easy and fast marinara sauce. There are no frills here and the only way you can mess this up is with 101 cooking mistakes, like too much salt or burning it. It is winter, so I'm using jarred tomatoes and dried basil that I harvested this summer. Also, you might bat an eye at the use of a carrot here. My Aunt Norma (level 10 expert kitchen master) started so many of her dishes with carrots and celery chopped super fine. I'm using the carrot here to impart some sweetness into our sauce. A lot of people add sugar, I feel a few ways about this: first, if you are using great and fresh tomatoes (we will do that in the summer) you don't need to add sugar; second, unless I'm sitting at Villabate Alba power eating pignoli cookies, I don't want sugar. By using a carrot, we are bringing in some healthy sweetness that you will love! OK, let's get OG (original grandma) and make a double batch, you can freeze your leftovers or share with a relative or neighbor.
What Do I Need?
56 Oz of Passata or crushed or plum tomatoes
SIDE BAR: I love passata di pomodoro. I discovered it in Italy and now use it whenever I am not using tomatoes from my own yard. It is simply strained tomatoes and nothing else. It often comes in glass jars, which I love, and I like my marinara smooth, so for me, passata di pomdoro is perfect. If you like your sauce chunky, go for crushed tomatoes or you can use plum and squash em yourself or run them through your food processor.
1 Large yellow onion (chopped fine, fine, fine!)
1 Carrot (chopped fine, fine, fine)
5 - 6 Cloves of garlic (smash 'em with the side of your knife and chop, chop, chop)
6 Oz Tomato paste
2 - 3 T Dried Basil
S & P
1 - 2" Parmigiano Reggiano rind (this is optional, but I save all my cheese rinds and use them when I cook)
1/4 Cup olive oil
1 Pound of pasta (I love penne with a nice and light marinara.)
In a large sauce pan heat 1/4 cup of olive oil, add your finely chopped onion, carrots, and garlic, cook over medium heat for 10 minutes stirring with a wooden spoon. I know I don't need to say this, but don't burn that garlic!
When your onions and garlic are golden and your kitchen smells like heaven, slowly begin to add your tomatoes. I like to add an inch or two and stir for a few minutes then add another inch or two and so on until I've got all my tomatoes in there.
Now toss in that magic cheese rind if you have it, add your basil and bring your pot to a simmer. Stir for 3 - 5 minutes, add your salt and pepper to taste and decrease your heat. I like to let my sauce cook slow n' low for 45 minutes to 2 hours, stirring it every 15 minutes or so. I also keep my tomato paste/water mix stove side so that I can adjust the consistency. If it is too thin, I add tomato paste tablespoon by tablespoon to get it where I want it. If it is too thick, I mix 6 oz of tomato paste with water and add that in so that I am thinning the sauce but maintaining flavor. The longer it cooks the deeper and more delicious your sauce will be, so keep that flame low and slow! When you serve, be sure of two things, don't overcook your pasta and always top with a bit of fresh grated parmigiano!