Monday, 8 October 2012

Marinara Sauce

Back at the very beginning (of blogging I mean) I made a dairy-free, tomato free pasta sauce. Before I made that exact recipe, I had tried one that had used a high ratio of carrots to peppers. Now I like carrots (my parents when I was a toddler would beg to differ, and claim that I was obsessed with them and turning a bit orange for a while there) but I never thought they had that much flavour. So as the sauce experimentation continued, I pretty drastically decreased the amount of carrots. This time, I actually was making a tomato sauce because our plants although they had a rough start, actually gave us a lot of good tomatoes. The only problem again was the carrots. The original recipe called for 1/2 carrot and 1/2 a stalk of celery. Well I'm not a fan of celery, so what do you think I did? Yup, I substituted the celery for the other 1/2 the carrot. Next time I'll just use 1/2 a carrot and omit the celery all together. Who new that one carrot, intermixed with onions, tomatoes, garlic and spices would shine through so much. (I might even omit it all together, but I'll try the 1/2 a carrot before taking that drastic measure). *Update* When I tried the sauce the following day after it had sat in the fridge, you can actually taste a lot more flavours than just the carrot. Sure it's definitely still there (there's no getting rid of it), but there is now a million other flavours competing for top slot in the sauce. It really is a complex tasting sauce. But I have to admit, it took a bit of getting used to on my spaghetti as I typically make my Mom's spaghetti sauce which isn't just a marinara sauce, it is loaded with meat, onion chunks, pepperoni, tomato paste and mushrooms (I'll share it with you some day soon). So as you can imagine, a marinara is slightly less chunky and less of a heavy sauce. Definitely good, but definitely different.

This recipe made ~3 cups of sauce. So, if I had to buy the tomatoes, it definitely would not be worth it to make it. But I had the tomatoes lying around, over-ripening so big deal. Plus, it was really fun to pop my first tomato in the hot water and then be able to peel the tomato with ease (amazing!!). One final note, I did have to use dried herbs, because my fresh herbs are done and this was a last minute decision to make this sauce and so I didn't have time to pick up some more.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Makes ~3 Cups of Sauce (enough sauce for the average sized package of spaghetti)


1/2 Carrot
1 Small Onion
4 Cloves Garlic
16 Medium Tomatoes
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 Tsp. Chili Peppers (gives it a bit of heat, use less if you don't want this)
1 Tsp. Basil
1 Tsp. Oregano


~Put a medium sized pot of water on to boil filled enough to submerge a tomato in.
~Peel carrot and then mince, grate or put through the food processor the carrot, onion and garlic. Set aside. (I recommend using the food processor here.)
~With a knife, slice an 'X' in the bottom of each tomato.
~Dip each tomato one at a time into the pot of boiled water and blanch the tomatoes for 10-30 seconds, then pull the tomato out and quickly run it under cold water or into an ice bath. The skin will now pull easily away from the flesh, starting at the 'X'. If the skin doesn't peel easily, dip the tomato back in the hot water and repeat. (This actually cool!)
~Cut the peeled tomatoes into quarters and squeeze out the juice and seeds into a sieve over a bowl. Reserving the juice.
~Heat a skillet (or large bottomed pot) on medium-high and add the oil.
~When the oil is hot, cook the carrots, onions and garlic for approximately 10 minutes until they have softened.
~Add in the tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium-low. 
~Use a potato masher (or an immersion blender if you're all techie like that) to mash the tomatoes into a sauce.
~Season with a generous amount of salt and pepper, chilies and the herbs. Stir.
~If the sauce is too thick, you can add in some of the tomato juice that you reserved when deseeding the tomatoes. 
~Let sauce simmer for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn't burn.

Enjoy, on pasta or get creative!

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