I've written about this before, but one of my favorite things to have on hand in my fridge is marinara sauce. We're lucky to have a few great fresh pasta makers in our little city, so we almost always have frozen pasta in fun flavors that boil in 3 minutes. If I already have marinara in the fridge or freezer dinner becomes even easier, but still feels like I've made it myself because...I kind of did.
No knock at all on jarred pasta sauces, but it's so simple to make your own (and cheaper! and less chemicals!) that I prefer to make big batches of it, keep some in the fridge and some in the freezer, and call it a day. I did this when I was pregnant and it was so nice to have on hand for quick pasta. I toss it with shredded chicken or cooked ground beef to serve over pasta, bake it with some cooked pasta and dollops of ricotta and shredded mozzarella for a quick ziti, or throw it into lasagna for a weekend meal.
Here's how I make mine. Olive oil, onion, garlic, crushed canned tomatoes, sugar, salt. Nothing fancy, and I keep the marinara really simple on purpose so that it can be used for lots of different dishes.
First, heat the olive oil and onion gently over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring as you go.
When the onion softens but isn't brown, add the garlic and a sprinkle of salt.
Stir the garlic into the onion for just a minute or 2, then add the tomatoes, sugar, and a little bit of water. Stir the sauce together and adjust the heat to medium-low or so so that the sauce is simmering but not boiling or bubbling very hard. Simmer the sauce for 10-15 minutes, tasting the sauce and adjusting the seasoning as you go. The sauce should be salty but not overly acidic, so you may need to sprinkle in a little bit more sugar depending on the tomatoes that you use. When the sauce has thickened and tastes perfect, turn the heat off and use any way you'd like.
I like to let the sauce cool in the pan for about 30 minutes if I'm not using it right away - I think this helps the flavor develop even more, then I package it in containers for the fridge or freezer.
Usually, though, I make one dish immediately with the sauce while it's hot - pasta for me and Beck, in this case. Pasta + red sauce is every kid's dream in my experience, and she's thrilled when this becomes lunch.
Later this week I've got a veggie side that includes this marinara, so make a double batch and use it throughout the week. Enjoy!
Basic Marinara Sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ medium onion finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- Add the olive oil and onion to a large skillet over medium heat. Cook while stirring for about 5 minutes until the onion softens but doesn’t brown.
- Add the garlic and salt and stir for 1 minute until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the sugar, tomatoes, and water. Stir every few minutes while the sauce comes to a simmer.
- Simmer the sauce for 15-20 minutes until reduced and thickened. Taste as you go and add more sugar and salt to your preference.
- Use as you’d like. Enjoy!