As promised, I thought I’d start my first ‘real’ post with one of my favorite recipes- my Dad’s marinara sauce. He compiled this recipe a year or two ago from several he tried and modified, finally coming up with his own masterful combination. I’ll start by posting his recipe, then sparingly sprinkle in some of my own comments along the way.
1/2 c. olive oil
8 cloves garlic
1 large onion
1 green pepper (I used red because that’s all I had)
1 large carrot (I used 2 because, well, I like carrots)
6 basil leaves
2 tbsp oregano
fresh parsley (I used about 6 big leaves…always use fresh herbs!)
3-4 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes (organic please!)
Mince the garlic and onion. Heat the oil in a large cooking pot and saute garlic and onion for 10 minutes on low heat until soft and tender. Finely chop carrots, bell pepper, and mince your herbs (chiffon style). Add in the carrot, cook for another 5 minutes until tender. Add in bell pepper, fresh herbs, S&P. Saute 5 min covered, so as not to dry out veggies. Add in canned tomatoes. Stir and bring to a boil, then simmer for 1-2 hours, covered, on low heat, until sauce reduces to be thick, rich, red, and delicious.
I make a batch of this sauce every 4-5 weeks. I freeze it in these nifty containers from Ball (the guys who make your Grandmother’s standard canning jars) and any other freezer-proof tupperware I have laying around the house. In doing this, I can avoid buying canned sauces from the store, saving myself some money, providing myself with better nutrition, and serving something I can take pride in.
My pride in making this sauce not only derives from the fact that it’s homemade. I’m also proud I made it because it tastes GOOD. I’ve always had a love for Italian cuisine which inspired me to watch cooking shows on the Food Network (back when I wasn’t paying my own cable bill) including ‘Everyday Italian’ by Giada De Laurentiis and ‘Molto Mario’ by Mario Batali. Besides having my eyes transfixed and my taste buds tantalized as I watched them dice, chop, and saute their way to gourmet Italian meals, one thing I learned from them is that Italians and Americans see basic pasta dishes in a contrasting light. Americans tend to open a jar of Prego, crack open a box of white pasta and after boiling some water and microwaving a bowl of sauce have a quick, easy, and ‘nutritional’ meal. Italians value the simple pasta dish, taking time to use wholesome ingredients, create their own sauces, and use quality pasta that doesn’t need to be doused in sauce so that your meal ends with watery pools of separated Prego gracing every dinner plate.
If you take the time to make your own great sauce, serve it over pasta with some freshly grated parmesan and a big chunk of crusty bread, you’ll have turned a ‘classic’ American standby of processed, boxed, and microwaved food, into a fresh and healthy traditional Italian meal.