My husband loves pasta. As a student and then a bachelor, he used a lot of bottled sauces from the grocery store. In fact, he still buys them, because he “likes to have them on hand just in case”. Just like 200 rolls of toilet paper and an extra 4 L jug of milk (some scars from childhood, I suspect…). Well, once you start reading the labels on many of the jarred sauces, they really should be a “just in case” sort of thing, and not a regular menu item (lots of salt!!!).
So, when the kids were little, I started trying out recipes to make my own marinara. It turned out it wasn’t too hard, just chop some onions, some garlic, add some tomatoes and fresh basil and you are all set. I have made it with fresh tomatoes, frozen tomatoes and canned tomatoes (here is a link to make your own!). Frozen are great when you have them on hand; fresh are a lot of work (with frozen ones, you are splitting up the work), and canned taste just fine too. I make a large quantity of the sauce and then freeze it in canning jars.
Marinara Sauce for meatballs, pizza sauce, or for with seafood
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 medium yellow onions, finely diced (don’t use the food processor, the onions will end up bitter)
8-10 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (I use a razor-grater similar to this one)
2 whole roasted red peppers (you can use jarred ones, I roast mine in the oven, and then peel off the skin and then freeze them), chopped
6-28 ounce cans whole tomatoes in their juice (no salt added) or 4-5 litres of frozen tomatoes, thawed
10-12 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
2-3 tsp salt flakes
1 tsp ground black pepper
1.Over mesh colander, strain cans of tomatoes, and break up tomatoes, removing any hard cores or bits of skin. Put sorted tomatoes back into juice. Set aside
2. Heat olive oil over medium heat, cook onions (stirring only occasionally) until soft (5-7 minutes). Less stirring will help the onions grow sweet with cooking. Add garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes, or until fragrant (don’t let garlic burn).
3. Add chopped roasted red peppers, and cook 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and juice, salt flakes and pepper. Bring to a low boil, turn heat down and simmer 45 minutes.
4. Using an immersion blender (or in batches in your regular blender), carefully puree sauce, making sure to break up any large pieces. Add basil leaves. Continue cooking 10-12 minutes.
5. Ready to serve! Or store in airtight containers (I use glass canning jars, leaving adequate head room at the top for expansion), in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Makes about 5 litres of sauce. I put mine in 250ml, 500ml and 1 litre jars so I always have access to the right amount of sauce for different types of meals (or numbers of people!).