Thursday, August 12, 2010

Homemade Marinara Sauce & Ways to Save Money

I love tomato sauce. Love it. I use loads of any tomato-based sauce like salsa, pico de gallo and marinara whenever I can (I don't, however, like plain tomatoes which I find weird). As my friend Becca says, "I could eat salsa with a spoon." And I'm right next to her, spoon in hand.

However, while I've made fresh salsa, for some reason, I've never tried making my own marinara sauce. I don't know why it's taken me so much time! It's delicious. My husband thought this was a great "summertime" marinara sauce. Light and fresh. We still have leftovers and I froze half so we'll be enjoying this for quite some time!

A couple changes I made: I used both fresh tomatoes from the farmers market as well as canned whole tomatoes in this sauce although you could use 2 28-oz cans of crushed tomatoes (Cook's Illustrated recommends Muir Glen brand for crushed tomatoes). Another difference was that I cooked mine in a slow cooker although the original recipe is on the stove. Finally, I added more spices and 1/4 cup of red wine to give a bit more richness to the sauce.

Also, before I share the recipe, I wanted to share a way to save money on groceries! I'm always looking for ways to save - I look at grocery circulars, compare prices (my dad and I sometime discuss milk prices at grocery stores), cut coupons, print internet get the point. However, one way that is a GREAT way to save money in the kitchen is your local co-operative. A co-op has the BEST prices on spices, hands down. I recently refilled my bay leaf container for 26 CENTS and my dried oregano container for 25 cents. They're typically $2-3 at the grocery store. That really adds up! Also, you can buy as much or as little as you like. So, for example, I had been putting off trying recipes because you only needed a teaspoon of dried ginger and I just couldn't justify shelling out a few bucks for an entire container. However, at a co-op I could get just a tiny amount of these lesser-used spices. They also have cheap bulk foods with different kinds of oats, flours, dried fruit, trail mix, nuts, etc. I even found REAL maple syrup in bulk - grade B, of course. (My family is a bunch of maple syrup snobs. Seriously. We bring our own to restaurants.)

One thing about co-ops is that I believe they are often in cities so just check the internet for the closest one to you. The closest one for us is 45 minutes away so I don't go there a lot. Instead, I save up a list and pair it with some other shopping or errands to do in the city anyway.

Homemade Marinara Sauce
Taken from: AllRecipes (also, the meatball part of this recipe is excellent although I didn't use it this time)
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (Muir Glen recommended by Cook's Illustrated) OR 56 oz. of fresh tomatoes crushed in a food processor (6-7 large tomatoes)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine
-In a skillet over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is translucent.
-Add cooked onions and garlic to a slow cooker. Stir in tomatoes, salt, sugar and bay leaves.
-Cover, set on low (you can change to high if pressed for time) and cook 5-6 hours (2 hours on high). Stir in tomato paste, dried spices, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and red wine and cook on high for 30 min (or set to low and let simmer until you're ready for dinner).
-If you like a smoother marinara sauce, take about 1/4 -1/2 of the sauce and add to a blender. Blend on high for a few seconds. Add back to slow cooker. Serve with pasta.


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