If you’re fortunate enough to have the freezer space, make a batch of marinara sauce, portion it out in 1 or 2 cup amounts and you’ll have the start of many great meals at your fingertips. Need ideas? This Food Network web site has 50 of them to start you off.
There are as many marinara sauce recipes as there are households in Italy, as far as I can tell.
The recipe below is an adaptation of Giada de Laurentiis’ though I’ve made several additions, as well as greatly reducing the amount of extra virgin olive oil she uses (1/2 cup!!).
Pureed and more rustic versions of the marinara sauce
I decided to combine 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce posted below with some chicken stock to thin it down, 300 grams of a frozen seafood medley (shrimp, octopus, clams and squid) and 250 grams of cooked pasta for a fast meal for 3. I threw in 4 oz of diced cremini mushrooms left over from shopping for another dish though it wasn’t really necessary.
All that seafood looks delicious, doesn’t it?
The finished dish
Basic Marinara Sauce – makes 9 cups of sauce
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup onions, finely chopped
1 cup carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 cups ground tomatoes
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 dried bay leaves
sugar, as needed
In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add the celery, carrots, garlic, and the salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, dried basil and dried oregano, and simmer partially covered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour.
Remove and discard the bay leafs. Taste and if too acidic or bitter, add 1/2 tsp sugar, stir through and taste again, adding more if needed.
Season the tomato sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste.
If you like a bit of spice, you can add some dried red pepper flakes to the individual containers depending on the recipe you use the marinara for.
Cool, then cover and refrigerate. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead.) Rewarm over medium heat before using.
NOTE: You may choose to puree the sauce when cooled a bit for a more refined sauce. I did so with half the batch but kept the remainder more ‘rustic’ in texture.