Monday, February 6, 2012

Simple Marinara

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I use this sauce in a lot of things, so you will see it come up in future recipes or meals that I write about.  When I create something I don't usually measure, but for the purpose of this blog I have approximate amounts.  Keeping the title in mind it's designed to be a quick sauce for weeknight meals, hence the use of canned tomatoes, though you most certainly can use fresh. 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 med onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (more or less to taste)
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1-2 teaspoons italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon sugar

In a skillet saute the onion with crushed red pepper in olive oil until onion is soft, about 3-5 minutes.  During last minute, add garlic.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer/reduce until sauce has thickened.  Amount of reducing will depend on what you are using the sauce for. 

Photo 1: the sauce right after all ingredients are added; Photo 2: reduced to the right amount for my ravioli topping; Photo 3: the sauce after being blended.

Once your sauce has reduced, put it in a blender and pulse to desired consistency.  Again, depending on your use you might want it chunky, smooth or somewhere in between.  The longer the sauce has cooked the less time in the blender it will need.  If the sauce isn't thick enough after blending, put it back in the skillet to reduce a little longer.  Caution: Do not completely seal the lid on the top of the blender as the heat build up could cause the top to blow off.  I leave the center cap out and cover it lightly with a paper towel to catch any splatter.

Some final notes:
1. The onion is optional.  I use it when I have it.
2. The garlic should only be sauteed for about a minute, otherwise it will overcook and become bitter - keep this in mind if you skip the onion step.
3. Sometimes I'll add 1 - 2 teaspoons of Amore Tomato Paste just to pump up the flavor.
4. If you have fresh italian herbs, use those in the last 5 (or so) minutes of cooking and omit the dried italian seasoning.
5. Your garlic/onion/herbs only need to be rough chopped since you'll be running the sauce through the blender.
6. I use this for topping pasta/ravioli, as a pizza sauce and for meatball subs. 
7. Some of the higher quality canned tomatoes from Italy don't have salt added.  If you are using those, you may have to add a little salt to the sauce for flavor.


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