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Do you have a pantry (freezer) item that you just can’t imagine not having around? We have several and this “Basic Marinara (Tomato) Sauce” is considered an essential at our house. We once opened our freezer and found none of our basic sauce, it was pure fear. The thought of not having a couple of cups of Marinara that we could toss in the nuker in a rush was paralyzing. We made a vow that day to never ever be in that position again.
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OK, I’m exaggerating a bit. But, you gotta have this stuff around.
FYI: “Tomato Sauce” in this post does not refer to the tomato sauce found in the United Kingdom (and Crown Colonies) which is like American Ketchup.
Marinara, Napoletana, Sofrito Sauce, Sauce Tomate or Tomato Sauce are all very similar and all began in the same place. So where did tomatoes begin? Hint, not Italy! Another hint, they used to be call Peruvian Apples. You’re correct, they came from the South America. They were then taken by the Spanish Conquistadors to Mexico, where they were first cultivated. From Mexico, they traveled to Spain where they were first made into a sauce, which is now known as Sofrito sauce. In the late 1600’s it showed up in Italy, and later became Marinara or Napoletana Sauce. It likely wasn’t until the late 1800’s that the Italian tomato sauce came to North America; believed to have come along with the great migration of Italian migrants of that time. At least that’s one story. Oh, tomatoes were also once thought to be poisonous, but that’s a whole different story that had to do with pewter, lead and aristocrats.
You’ll see in the recipe below that we use a good quality canned tomatoes, but you can use fresh as well. Regarding canned tomatoes, you can read my take on proper canned tomatoes in my Tomato Soup Base posting. If you do use fresh, just substitute about pound of fresh tomatoes for each 14.5 oz. (400g) can of tomatoes.
This is a super simple recipe. This sauce is what chicken stock (fond) is to the chicken or beef stock is to the cow. It’s a tomato in all its sauce splendor. We usually make up double or triple batches and use what we need fresh made and freeze the rest. Most agree that you should consume the frozen sauce within six months, but we never have any that lasts that long.
Basic Marinara Sauce is the basis for our Ragu, Bolognese, pizza, lasagna and many other dishes. I’ve even made a luscious creamy tomato soup with it. Add cucumbers with the Marinara and zip it with your “boat motor” (immersion blender) and you have a simple Gazpacho. Wow! I never thought of using it in a Bloody Mary. Back in a flash…….yep, makes a good start for a Bloody Mary as well.Chloe says: Where’s the pasta!
“Basic Marinara Sauce” has been approved by Chloe for human consumption.
Happy Sauce Making!
Basic Marinara (Tomato) Sauce
- 3 tbsp (msk) olive oil exrta virgin.
- 4 cloves garlic sliced thin.
- 1 red (spanish), white or yellow onion, chopped fine.
- 1/2 carrot grated.
- 2 - 14 oz (400g) canned "good quality" whole (plum) tomatoes, preferably San Marzano.
- 3 tbsp fresh chooped thyme leaves or 1 tbsp (msk) of dried.
- 12 large fresh basil leaves (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste.
Chop the onion (of choice) finely.
Grate 1/2 of the carrot.
Thinly slice the garlic cloves.
Pick and chop fresh thyme leaves.
Pick the large basil leaves from the bunch, leaving the stems.
Sauté and Cooking
Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan. Once the oil glistens and has that wonderful olive oil smell, toss in the chopped onion and grated carrot. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Now begin sautéing.
Continue to sauté the onions and carrots until they begin to soften. This will take 8-12 minutes, depending on your cooking surface.
Add the thyme and stir, then add the garlic and cook about 5 additional minutes.
It's time to add the tomatoes, being careful not to break them apart (they have a nicer flavor when you stew them whole).
Bring to a boil and add your (optional) fresh basil. Be careful here to place whole leaves into the sauce. Don't forget to stir often.
Once the tomatoes have come to a boil, reduce the sauce to a simmer and continue cooking for about 30 minutes. The sauce should be reduced to a semi-thick consistency.
If using the sauce immediately, fish out (remove) the 12 basil leaves and discard. If your not using the sauce immediately cool prior to fishing out the basil leaves.
After the basil is removed, crush/mash up the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. For a less chunky sauce, use a potato masher and mash to your desired consistency.
This recipe was adapted from Mario Batali's & Jamie Oliver's Tomato Sauce Recipes.
As for the optional basil, it's your choice, but I believe it imparts a lovely subtle flavor to the sauce.
The sauce will stay OK in your refrigerator for a week or 6 months in the freezer (if it last that long.
Use as a tomato base for pasta, pizza, lasagna, meat loaf and many other ways you'll discover.