Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Homemade Basil Marinara

The best things in life (besides my beautiful little girl, and huggable, lovable husband) are....well, FOOD! And good food at that.

My all time favorite (at the moment) is definitely an amazing pasta sauce paired with a simple fresh loaf of Italian bread slathered in butter. Just thinking about dipping the bread into the yummy goodness of the sauce makes me smile. Thats exactly what I had for lunch yesterday after making the sauce. SOOO GOOD!

This is a recipe that I play with time and time again, altering little things here and there depending on what types of herbs I have on hand or what I plan on pairing with the sauce. It is also a great base to add into soups, casseroles, etc. Adding veggies to it works out well too! During the summer fresh peeled tomatoes are used, the rest of the year I usually opt for easy canned tomatoes. Basil is never replaced though, it has a permanent spot in this recipe.

So here goes....this is how I made it yesterday:

5 cans of crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
2 tblsp. EVOO
1 to 2 tblsp. minced garlic (use lesser amount if you aren't a garlic lover)
3 cubes (1 teaspoon each) frozen minced basil, or 3 teaspoons dried basil (or another herb - oregano, etc.)
3 tblsp. packed brown sugar
2 - 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (start off with a little, you can always add more if you like the flavor)
2 tsp. salt
1.5 tsp. fresh ground black pepper (more if desired)
2 tblsp minced onion
2 tblsp. white sugar
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 cup fresh chopped basil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (Optional as an add-in)

**In a large pot heat the EVOO on medium heat. Add minced garlic and stir until garlic becomes fragrant and softens. If desired you can also use 1/2 a fresh onion, chopped and cooked with garlic, this is in place of minced onion.
**Add crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, stir occasionally until heated but not boiling. Add in the remainder of the ingredients with the exception of the chopped parsley, chopped basil, Parmesan and 1 tblsp. of white sugar.
**Bring to a simmer for 60 - 75 minutes, uncovered. The longer it simmers the thicker it becomes. I happen to like a thicker marinara and will simmer at least 75 minutes, sometimes more.
**Turn heat down to warm or  low and add the remainder of ingredients. Cook another 15 to 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
**This sauce is great to toss in the freezer too. Let cool before pouring into freezer bags or plastic containers.


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