You might be asking, "Why would I need to make my own red marinara sauce...the stuff in the jar is fast and easy." Well, I would have to agree with you, but before you write this week's recipe off, allow me to make a case for the ease and superiority of homemade sauce.
With mainly pantry items, this sauce can come together in 20 minutes. Plus, imagine how good you will feel to serve your family homemade sauce, even if you are not the world's craftiest cook. Building on that thought; why not get your family to help you with the sauce? Watching is primarily how children learn how to cook and tasking them with appropriate work will jettison their progress. Have them stir the sauce if you are comfortable having them around a hot stove, or have the younger ones prep the herbs by washing, drying and tearing the basil into small pieces or adding the ingredients to the pot with your help. What little one wouldn't love squishing a tomato in their bare hand?
So, yes, this recipe is not as easy as opening a jar of sauce, but, I'm guessing you'll feel the experience well outweighs the slight time advantage of doing so. Twenty minutes with your family in the kitchen to create a meal counts as solid quality time to me. So, let's get you started.
Homemade Pantry Marinara Sauce
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1 small yellow onion, finely diced
-2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
-1 bay leaf
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 sprig of fresh Thyme
-½ cup of sliced fresh basil
-Parmesan cheese, to garnish, optional
-Cooked pasta, to serve ( or make zucchini ribbons)
Directions: Warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pan with the onions. Crush the tomatoes in your hand as you add them, or smash them against the sides of the pan with your spatula. Add the bay leaf and thyme.
Simmer for about 20 minutes: Bring the sauce to a rapid simmer, then lower the heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer. Continue simmering until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened, about 20 minutes. Be sure to stir the sauce every minute so it reduces and does not burn on the bottom.
While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta or zucchini ribbons in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Drain the pasta, but do not rinse. To create zucchini ribbons, cut the ends of both sides of the zucchini, peel and cut long sections around the middle of the core to eliminate any seeds from your ribbons. Slice the zucchini into thin sections, lengthwise. Cook like pasta, but only for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain quickly and bath in an ice bath. Remove and place into a bowl.
Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems. Serve the sauce immediately over pasta with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for about a week or can be frozen for up to 3 months.