Kitchen Basics: Marinara Sauce

Is it just me or do you also feel like we don’t take advantage of tomatoes enough? We get them all year round! Across most blogs from the US, I see painful canning and preserving techniques and I’m left shamefaced that we go through none of that trouble. Thankfully, I have this sauce to take away some of the guilt.

Marinara sauce is essentially tomatoes, onion, garlic and herbs. Tomatoes are cooked down to release flavor, herbs perfume it and onion and garlic make really amazing back-up singers without stealing away from the main act. You can also add olives, capers and a dash of red wine, as some marinara recipes do. It’s pretty versatile and once you make it, you’ll find good use for it. Pasta is an obvious choice, of course but its equally good on its own, on toast with some mozzarella. If you’re going the meat route, it’ll make a wonderful coating for meatballs or splashed over burgers or possibly scattered with some breaded chicken fillets. I also read an interesting variation – deep fried mozzarella balls and this sauce to dip. I’ll take a bucket of that please!

It uses a blend of two kinds of tomatoes – canned and fresh. The fresh ones are roasted to enhance their flavor and I like to add two large tomatoes along with a can of 400g pomodoro tomatoes.  I’ve played with the proportions before, adding up to 6 fresh tomatoes with 400g tinned ones and they turned out to be too tart. I’d suggest anywhere between 2 to 4 per can, depending on the intensity. The important thing is to let them cook – 40 minutes to an hour on low flame helps to break down the tartness and reduce it to something wonderful. Sometimes I add a pinch of sugar to reduce the tartness but it varies every time, so taste it at every stage. You can chop up onions and garlic, add tomatoes and let the sauce simmer while you get on with other dinner prep or sneak in some TV show to watch. Breezy, fragrant cooking for a slow day, this sauce is perfectly adequate.

Marinara Sauce

Serves: 2 as pasta sauce

Source: The Vanilla Bean original

1 tbs olive oil

2 tsp butter

2 bay leaves

1 can (400 g) tinned tomatoes

1 large onion, chopped finely

3 – 4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 – 1 tsp red paprika flakes

1/2 cup water

2 oven roasted tomatoes

100 gm + 100 gm basil, divided

Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a large skillet, add olive oil and bring to heat. Add butter and turn down the flame to low. Let it splutter and add garlic, bay leaves and paprika flakes. Snip some basil, along with the stems with a pair of kitchen scissors and stir to mix. Turn up the flame and cook till garlic is fragrant but not burnt. Turn down the flame and add onions and a tiny pinch of salt. Let it cook till onions are golden and soft.

2. Immediately add roasted and tinned tomatoes. In the can of tomatoes, add water and swirl it around and pour into the mix. Cover and let it cook.

3. Cook till 40 – 60 minutes on low flame till tomatoes are tart and cooked down. Serve with pasta, chicken or spread on toast.


One response to “Kitchen Basics: Marinara Sauce

  1. Pingback: Pasta Party! | The Vanilla Bean·

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