Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Simple Marinara Sauce

My little boy loves pasta.  Absolutely loves it.  He would eat it for lunch every day if he could.

To be fair, I love pasta too, as does my husband.  So not surprisingly, pasta with a basic (but delicious!) marinara sauce is one of the staple meals of our home.

I almost always have the ingredients to make this simple tomato sauce on hand. It's great on any kind of pasta, and I have also used it in lasagna and on pizza.

Simple Marinara Sauce

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 med. onion, diced
2-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5-oz.) cans OR 1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
Italian herb blend to taste (mine has oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, and rosemary)
salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic, and saute until soft and translucent.

Put onion and garlic into a blender.  Add 1 can tomatoes (or half of 28-oz. can) and tomato paste.  Blend until smooth.

Return to skillet.  Add remaining tomatoes and stir to incorporate.  Add Italian herbs to taste.  Heat over medium-low heat until thoroughly warm.  Add additional Italian herbs if desired, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Enjoy!


Non-Chunky.  I always reserve half of the tomatoes before blending, then add in after because I like noticeable chunks of tomato in my sauce.  But you can also blend all of the tomatoes for a smoother sauce.

Oil-Free/Fat-Free.  I usually use olive oil because I think it adds to the overall flavor of the sauce.  And who doesn't love the smell of onions and garlic cooking in olive oil?!  But you can just as easily cook the onions and garlic in plain water or vegetable broth if you want to have a fat-free sauce.

Extra Veggies.  I love adding extra vegetables to this sauce!  Mushrooms can be sauteed separately and added to the sauce after blending.  Zucchini/summer squash can also be sauteed separately and then added after blending.  Greens can be chopped (spinach, chard, KALE?!) (if using a sturdier green, chop it finely to make sure it cooks quickly in the sauce) and added in after blending; keep the heat on until they wilt.  A carrot or two can be diced and cooked with the onions and garlic and then blended in; this mostly adds sweetness, and usually doesn't affect the final color or add a noticeable carroty flavor.  (If you're one of those people who hides vegetables in their kids' foods--which I am not--this is good to know.)  Peel an eggplant and salt/sweat it prior to beginning the sauce; saute it with the onion and garlic, and then blend as usual.  I have even been known to slip in a little bit of pumpkin puree on occasion, when I have a tiny odd amount languishing in my fridge.

Extra Protein.  Add 1/2 cup cooked red lentils or 1 cup cooked chickpeas before blending to add texture and extra protein.  Or add the chickpeas after; I love chickpeas with marinara sauce, and this works great with a chunkier pasta shape.

This post is linked to Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday blog carnival on 10/22/2014.

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