When you have pasta, do you make your own tomato sauce?
Growing up I was addicted to Ragu, and then Prego. Sometime in highschool I became increasingly bored with jarred sauces. I was lucky enough to take a trip to the south of France and came home with a large bag full of herbs de provence. One afternoon I decided to experiment with the herbs and fresh cherry tomatoes, and since then I haven’t bought a single jar of the pre-made stuff.
Making your own sauce is not only easy, but quick. It’s always finished before the pasta is, so don’t think you need to simmer the stuff all day to get a worthwhile result. Here’s my basic recipe for an herbed marinara sauce.
Simple Herbed Marinara Sauce
1 Tbs Earth Balance or Olive Oil
1 tsp Dried Basil
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Marjoram
1 Can Organic Stewed Tomatoes (13.5 ounces)
1/2 Vegetable Bullion Cube or 1/2 tsp+ salt
Heat the Earth Balance or oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the dried herbs and saute for 1 minute, until aromatic and slightly bubbly. Take care not to burn the herbs.
Add the tomatoes. I blend the chunks out before this step, but it’s not necessary. Add the bullion cube and let the sauce simmer on low, covered, until the pasta is done. If you don’t have a bullion cube, add 1/4 tsp of salt or more to taste. If the sauce tastes sort of bland, or a bit too salty, try adding a light sprinkle of balsamic vinegar.
Once the pasta is al dente, drain and toss it in the pan with the sauce and mix to coat. The sauce should be very flavorful, so the deceptively thin coating on the pasta will pack a punch. The starches from the pasta will thicken up the sauce and help it cling to the pasta.
Fresh herbs instead of dried, especially Basil
Red Wine/White Wine, 1+ tbs
Nutritional Yeast, 1 Tbs
Fresh tomatoes instead of canned (Roma or Cherry are nice)
Onions, finely chopped – add before herbs and brown slightly
Garlic to taste, roasted or raw
Fresh Spinach (I like baby spinach added last)
Sliced mushrooms, added before the herbs
You don’t need a complicated recipe to make a tasty sauce. If you’ve been buying pre-made sauces, I think you’ll be surprised how easy it is to make a high quality sauce yourself, with all your favorite ingredients. Try it!