Saturday, June 20, 2015

MY FAVORITE HOME-MADE MARINARA SAUCE

By Mary Kennedy                  
                                                    
As we talked about last week, few things can beat a nice plate of spaghetti and meatballs. No matter what the season, or what the occasion, there is just something wonderful (almost addictive!) about pasta. If only it had fewer calories and carbs! In case you missed last Saturday's post, I posted photos of "zucchini pasta" made with a handy gadget called a "spiralizer." It turns this...
into this...
 
Does it taste exactly like pasta? No, not quite. But it's a darn good substitute and here's a hint. You can start using "half real pasta" and "half zucchini pasta" to ween yourself off the wheat version. Gradually reduce the amount of "real" pasta and you will be happy with the zucchini version (at least that's the theory. Hey, nothing is perfect in life.)  But what's pasta without a delicious sauce?                                                             
 
  I started making my own marinara sauce years ago. I want to save calories, eliminate fat and get rid of any "processed" taste. It's incredibly easy to do and now that basil is here, I make it and freeze it for the long cold winter.
(I'm experimenting with keeping my basil plants going throughout the winter, but that's the subject for another blog, and I'm open to suggestions.)
                                                             

A quick note about basil. You pinch it back, right? That's very important for encouraging new growth. And you can take those tall straggly pieces, strip away the bottom leaves, plunk the stem in a glass of water and in 2 or 3 weeks, you will have an entire new plant. Unlimited basil!! But more about that later.  Here's my basic recipe for marinara sauce.
 
Marinara sauce
 
Saute a Vidalia onion (or a regular onion or a "sweet onion" if you can't find Vidalia.)                                         
 Add a little minced garlic to the pan and sauté that, as well. (this is optional, I don't use garlic. Another option is garlic powder.)
                                                      
 
Add 8 ounces of fresh mushrooms to the pan. Keep stirring.
                                                          
 
Now add crushed tomatoes. I usually start with a big can, or two or three smaller cans.
 
If you want more "texture" in your sauce, you can add a can of diced tomatoes, this is optional too.
                                                            
 Sometimes I add a handful of cherry tomatoes at this point.  They're delicious and they add a sweet, delicate taste to the sauce.                                     
                                                         
    And I add a pinch (maybe a teaspoon) of sugar. This cuts the acidic taste of the tomatoes and just make the sauce taste better.                                       
                                                         
 
Now's the time to add plenty of fresh basil and parsley.
 
Add a little black pepper and salt (I use Crazy Salt) which is both pepper and salt mixed together. If you are trying to cut down or eliminate salt, just skip this step. I also add a little Italian seasoning (but if you are lucky enough to have fresh oregano in the garden, use that instead.) You can tailor this recipe any way you want and I keep tasting as I go along. A little of this, a little of that!
 
Now just let the sauce simmer and all the flavors will get acquainted with each other. I let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Serve over zucchini pasta (or real pasta, if you must!) and I think you will like it. Let me know how you do with it, and next week, I'm posting a recipe for "zucchini manicotti" and "zucchini lasagna." Both are delish! Thanks for stopping by and happy gardening and cooking, everyone. Once tomatoes are really in season, I'll post a recipe for "fresh marinara sauce" with no canned ingredients.
 
Mary Kennedy

10 comments:

Gram said...

I sounds good to me. Thanks for the basil-growing tip. My basil is pinched, but does not come back well and does not last the summer.

mary kennedy said...

Hi Gram, I just started pinching back the basil this year and I can already see a difference. Make sure you pinch it back from the top, not the sides. Pinch it back right under the little cluster of leaves at the top...it will branch out underneath, you will be surprised! Thanks for stopping by.

Lisa Ks Book Reviews said...

I need to try and grow basil year round in my kitchen. My pet rabbits love it. I've never made homemade pasta sauce, but yours seems so simple! As for the zucchini, no thank you. LOL Green veggies and I don't get along. ;-)

mary kennedy said...

Hi Lisa, I hear ya!! I'm posting a "real" pasta next week, with all fresh ingredients, just for you, my friend. Fresh cherry tomatoes, penne pasta....yum! Yes, it is definitely worth it to try your hand at basil. It is easy to grow and the plants flourish if you remember to pinch them back. Unfortunately my cats tend to eat them if I put them on a kitchen windowsill. (well, at least it helps get rid of tuna breath.)

Kate Collins said...

That's very similar to my sauce, Mary! I also add a bay leaf and Italian seasoning, plus organic, grass fed ground beef. I've recently switched to quinoa pasta to eliminate grains. I'll have to get the spiral cutter so I can use veggies. Great post.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Yummy, Mary! I love the look and sound of this. We are all trying to find ways to eat healthy and you sure did give us a boost. Thanks for this terrific post.

XO

mary kennedy said...

I love quinoa pasta, Kate. It definitely makes a delicious dish. Thanks for stopping by! Yes, be sure to get the spiral cutter. You don't need a fancy one, the $10.00 one works just as well.

mary kennedy said...

And I forgot to list the bay leaf, good point! It really jazzes it up.

mary kennedy said...

Glad you liked it, MJ. Be sure to try Kate's idea of quinoa pasta, thanks for stopping by.

holdenj said...

Looks delicious!