Saturday, April 17, 2010

Marinara sauce

Folks often ask me how to make a simple tomato sauce for pasta.  And they compliment me on the sauce I serve them.  (Thank you, all. :-)  )That sauce would be what we'd call "marinara" sauce -- meatless tomato sauce, simple and unadorned. 

It's the easiest thing in the world: onion, garlic, olive oil, then tomatoes.  Salt and pepper. Then let it simmer for 20 or 30 minutes.  After that, add basil if you have it, or some parsley.  Optionally you can add some hot red pepper flakes, or a couple anchovy fillets.  For those of you who are tempted to hit the close button, wait -- the anchovy fillets add a dimension of flavor to the sauce that is unidentifiable as 'fish.'  Try it, it works beautifully.

I typically will make a large pot of sauce when I make it -- it keeps in the fridge for a few days, and it freezes beautifully.  Make it once, serve it three or four times.

Basic 'marinara' sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, smashed, crushed, or finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 tsp crushed hot red pepper flakes (optional)
2 anchovy fillets (optional)

2 35-oz cans whole Italian tomatoes
1 35-oz can crushed tomatoes

1 handful (1 cup??) chopped basil or parsley 

Heat the olive oil in a 5- or 6-qt saucepan.  Add garlic, onion, pepper.  Saute gently until softened.  Add the crushed red pepper and anchovy fillets if you're using them.  (Use them, ok?)

Dump the whole tomatoes into a large bowl and gently crush them with your hands into coarse pieces.  Add them to the pot, along with the can of crushed tomatoes.  Stir well, bring to a simmer, lower heat, and let simmer, semi-covered, for about 20 minutes.  Taste for salt and pepper and add accordingly.

Just as the sauce is finishing, add a handful of chopped basil or parsley to the finished sauce.  Got both?  Put both. 

This amount of sauce will easily accommodate two pounds of cooked pasta.

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