So when it comes to cooking, I’m pretty much a learn-as-you-go type. I tried my hand at semi-homemade marinara sauce, and I got a really delicious finished product, so I thought I’d share.
I’ve only tried making marinara once before, and I sadly ignored my grandmother’s warnings to use canned tomatoes in the off season for tomatoes. While fresh tomatoes just sounds better, they don’t necessarily taste better when they’re out of season. Most of the flavor for my sauce came from added ingredients rather than the tomatoes themselves, so I wanted a fresh start.
I decided to try canned tomatoes this time (I know, such a shame to not use fresh in season, but my last experience scared me), and so I used two cans of tomato paste and one of diced tomatoes. Which I further sliced and diced into a nice mushy paste as well. Anyway, I cranked the heat up and added the following:
Fresh minced garlic
Fresh chopped basil
A bit of pepper
A bit of cayenne
About half a teaspoon of sugar
I was really just trying to match my favorite sauce back home at a restaurant called Niccolini’s in Boardman, Ohio, so pardon the lack of measurements. I
never use measurements. OK, I use them when I bake and it’s absolutely necessary. Anyway, I mostly did everything to taste. I was surprised how much olive oil I needed to really give it a rich texture…instead of thinning it out as I would have expected it to do, the olive oil actually thickened the sauce quite nicely. And I’m not one for sweet sauces but the sugar ended up being the last thing I added just to take the edge off of the tomato.
The other ingredients, well, I can never get enough fresh garlic or basil.
Anyway. I googled simmering times just to make sure I was doing it right. My mother’s sauce was like an all-day affair, and I wondered if that was the accepted preparation: an all day simmer-fest. Yup. It was.
I only simmered mine for about two hours. I’m not quite sure how it worked out so well, but I somehow got a very rich, thick (but not chunky), slightly sweet, tomatoey sauce. IN UNDER TWO HOURS.
I don’t know if anyone else has had that sort of experience, but I thought it might be nice to share just in case anyone else was looking for a shortcut. I wish I could share how and why it turned out so well, but I guess you’ll just have to try it (or something like it) for yourself.