Marinara Sauce is such a great base for so many recipes from pasta to lasagna, shakshuka, beef stew or eggplant parmesan. The sauce freezes well, can be made mild to spicy and can be enhanced with healthy greens such as spinach, kale or collard greens. Freeze in quart size bags if you need only small amounts. Easy to multiply the recipe--make a gallon or more for larger families or gatherings.
Here I use it in Spaghetti and Meatballs a childhood and American favorite. When I make the pasta, I add spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles to lessen the carbs in the meal. This is a delicious, budget friendly dish fit for company or every day. Keep it vegan, add meat, and use it with so many recipes—a flexible recipe that is perfect for our inflationary times!
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Yield: 1 quart
1 ounce dried mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (use any color. Green gives a more piquant flavor,
yellow, red or orange, a milder and slightly sweet taste)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped or torn
1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh, leaves only
1 teaspoon dried parsley or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped
1 28-ounce can fire roasted San Marzano Tomatoes
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Place mushrooms in hot water and let steep for 20 minutes. When drain, reserve liquid. Rinse off mushrooms and then chop.
In a skillet or heavy pan, warm olive oil. Add onion and bell pepper and sauté until onion is translucent. Add garlic, stirring to make sure garlic doesn’t burn. Add tomato paste, stirring. Add wine and stir until tomato paste is mostly dissolved. Crush the dried herbs in your hands and sprinkle over the onion mixture. Stir.
Add crushed tomatoes and mushroom liquid. Sprinkle sugar over top. Stir ingredients together. Bring to a simmer and then keep on a low heat for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes to make surenothing sticks. Sauce should thicken. Taste and adjust seasoning.
If you want a very smooth sauce, after thte sauce cools a bit, purée with an immerser or place in blender. If you like some texture, as I did in this version, leave as is.
Freeze extra by bringing sauce to room temperature. Write Marinara Sauce and date on the freezer bag. Place in bag and freeze on a flat surface. Your next meal is more than halfway done!
Add mushrooms: Add 6 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and chopped to onion mixture. Sauté until golden. Continue with recipe.
Add medium eggplant: Chop a medium eggplant, leaving skin on. If a large eggplant, peel skin.
Place in skillet or pot with onion mixture. Sauté until the eggplant is soft. Then continue with recipe.
Add spinach: Add 6 ounces fresh or frozen spinach with the tomato sauce. Stir to combine.
Fresh tomatoes: Use 2 pounds chopped Roma tomatoes instead of canned.
Add 1 pound ground meat of choice after garlic. Continue with recipe.
Leftover wine? Don’t waste it! Freeze wine in ice cube tray(s). When frozen place in freezer bag and use for future cooking projects. Wine does not completely freeze because of its alcohol content so make sure the freezer bag is completely sealed!
Leftover tomato paste? Wrap extra in plastic wrap and place in freezer bag. Label and freeze.