Thursday, February 27, 2014

Marinara: A Quick Sauce for a COLD Day

It's cold. Really cold. It's January and I haven't decided if I am in Ohio or on Hoth. I want something hearty for dinner. Warming, comforting, I want pasta with a marinara sauce Again I head to the pantry and hope that this job won't be a major undertaking. Slowly, timidly I open the door, fear building with every creak of the 76 year old hinges. I look with my head to the side and one eye open. Scanning the shelves, dread starts to overcome me. I swear it was in there, this can't be right. Fate can't be this cruel, providence this unkind. WHY DOES GOD HATE ME SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Than in the corner as if praying that someone unbury it and bring it forth into the light and warm of the day, Oh I forgot, it's cold, REALLY cold. With the joy of finding a long lost friend I gently retrieved my last box of dried spaghetti. Joy of Joys, I won't have make pasta tonight!!! Now I just have to grab that jar of …............SAUCE!!! WHERE IS THE SAUCE?? This was going to be an easy night. I have no jarred sauce. Damn you fate. Damn you providence WHY DOES GOD HATE ME SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Okay, settle down!” ,I say to myself. “you've been to a combat zone, Soldier up! You got this.” I than decided to consult the ancient tome of knowledge, a book so dark and mysterious as to awe the soul. The dark book that is the binder that I keep all the Family recipes in. Carefully as to not awaken some foul demon like Green Tomato Pie, I open said binder. Searching through all the failed recipes of my childhood and desperately trying not to assume the fetal position, I find the one that served the family faithfully for years, Dad's Marinara. This recipe's origins are as lost to history as The Ark of the Covenant. Modified and re-modified so many times that the copied sheet is nearly indecipherable to anyone that doesn't know the code.
Walking back to the pantry that so recently shattered my soul, I start to take inventory. Olive oil, onion, can of tomato puree, tomato paste,garlic and Italian seasoning. Fate is suddenly smiling, I just hope she doesn't know something I don't. I than head to the refrigerator, and retrieve the carrots. Carrots are a recent addition to the sauce, and I find that they bring a natural sweetness. Time to grab a sharp knife and get to work. I start by putting a medium sauce pan on medium high heat and add the oil. I than peel and finely dice one medium size carrot. This gets added to the oil, and yes they have to be added first. Carrots will take the longest to cook so that is why I don't cut up anything else until they are on the heat. Next is to fine dice the onion and mince the garlic. Once the carrots are just starting to soften I add the onions and garlic and cook until they just start to brown on the edges. It is at this point that my father and I disagree. He adds all the remaining ingredients, I ,however, add the tomato paste and brown it. The caramelization gives it, in my opinion, a deeper flavor. I than add all the remaining ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes. YES 10 MINUTES! It will take that long for the pasta to cook. After 10 minute I salt and pepper to taste.
This is so quick and fairly cheap, I can't see buying sauce. The great thing is it is adaptable. Want sausage, just brown it and add it when you add everything else. By the way the fat from the sausage is great for sauteing the veggies. Want it smoother, grab you blender, immersion or otherwise, and blend smooth. I have to admit to adding red pepper flakes occasionally. It freezes very well and will last 2 months in the freezer.
Here's hoping every pantry disaster turns out this good. Do you have a upgrade or a different way of making this, I would love to hear about it. Just add it to the comments!

Dad's Marinara
2 tablespoons Extra-virgin Olive oil
1 medium carrot peeled and diced fine
¼ medium onion fine diced
3 cloves garlic minced
28oz can of tomato puree (crushed tomatoes work well too)
1 ½ tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon Dried Italian seasoning
2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
Fresh ground Black Pepper to taste

Heat oil in medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Saute carrot about 3 min. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and just starting to brown. Add the tomato paste and brown being careful not to burn. Add the tomato and the Italian seasoning. Lower heat and simmer for 10 min.
Stir in the salt and season with pepper to taste. Use now or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days pr freeze for up to 2 months.

Have you got a family recipe that you love, or a sauce that you love to make? I would love to hear about it, so Please comment.

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