Basic Marinara Sauce

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After a few cases of using half the bottle of the store bought sauces, leaving it in the fridge, and open it a few weeks later only to find it mouldy and quite unusable, I decided that it was time to make my own sauce. The work might be a bit more, but I certainly think that the flavour is unmatched.

What you need:

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2-3 medium tomatoes, diced or a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 10 Basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • Salt to taste

How to make it:

  1. Sweat the onions in olive oil until they just become translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. This is not a saute, you don’t want the onions to brown, but just release their moisture. Sprinkling a little salt helps with this.
  2. Add the garlic and sweat for another minute. You’re trying to get the garlic flavour, but without browning the garlic.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes and mix well. Toss in the basil leaves, the dried herbs and the crushed red pepper. If you don’t have fresh basil, substitute a teaspoon of dried basil instead.
  4. Cover and let it cook for about 5-10 minutes or until the tomatoes have lost their raw smell.
  5. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and let it cook for another two minutes. Though this is optional, I personally think that it gives a better flavour to the sauce.
  6. Take the pot off the cooktop and allow the mixture to cool a bit before blending it to a sauce.
  7. You now have your basic marinara sauce. You can use it in any recipe that calls for it. If the sauce seems a little too sour, then sweeten it a bit by adding a bit of sugar.

Chef’s notes:

This is probably the most versatile sauce that I can think of. As a base, you can make a gravy of sauteed vegetables mixed with this sauce and pasta to make a quick meal, or you could kick it up a notch with vodka and heavy cream to make vodka sauce.

You can adjust pretty much anything in this sauce – the herbs give it an intense flavour, the crushed red pepper gives it heat, while the balsamic vinegar gives it tartness.