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Homemade marinara sauce

tomatoes

A couple nights ago I glanced over at my kitchen counter to find it overflowing with tomatoes. My garden has been especially prolific this year in its production of tomatoes; so I figured it was time to make a recipe that would eat away at my stash. I picked an old standby, marinara sauce.

I get especially excited when I can cook something instead of buying a processed, pre-made version of it at the grocery store. Canned marinara sauces can be loaded with salt, vegetable oils, and sugar. When you make your own sauce you can avoid these ingredients and tailor the recipe to your own tastebuds.

To replicate my recipe you will need:
6 pounds of freshly picked tomatoes (drained, canned tomatoes if you don’t have any fresh ones)
4-6 cloves of garlic (depending on how much garlic you like)
olive oil
5 stalks of parsley
thyme
oregano
black pepper
pinch of salt

boilingTo begin rinse the tomatoes and cut off the tops. While you’re doing this, heat up a big pot of water on the stovetop. Once the water is boiling and all the tomatoes have been cut, carefully lower the tomatoes into the pot (don’t just drop them in or you’ll get splashed by boiling water!). Leaves the tomatoes in until the water returns to a boil and then wait an additional minute before removing them from the heat. Take the tomatoes out of the pot and start peeling of the skin (I used a fork so I wouldn’t burn my hands). Once they are all peeled place them in a bowl and begin mashing them up. I used a mashing utensil with little slits in it, but you could use a fork as well. Remember, you still want whole chunks of tomato in the bowl.

Once you are satisfied with the tomatoes, pour a little olive oil into a clean pot and turn the heat on low. Then add your garlic. Once the garlic darkens slightly and the smell is apparent, pour the tomatoes into the pot. Turn the heat up, but not all the way. Drop the parsley stalks into the mixture, leaves, stem and all. If you want you could also add basil leaves here, but I chose not to. Add in a few good shakes of the oregano, thyme, and black pepper. If desired add just a pinch of kosher sea salt. Make sure to stir the sauce every now and then to prevent the bottom from singing. It should begin to boil eventually.herbs

If you are going to serve the sauce on pasta now is a good time to get the water heating up to a boil. I chose to serve mine with organic whole grain brown rice penne, but you can choose whatever is your favorite.

Once my pasta was finished, I removed the sauce from the heat and transferred it into a ceramic bowl. Remove the parsley and basil leaves now. If you didn’t make pasta, I would suggest letting the marinara sauce simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.

If you did make the pasta I would suggest sprinkling some parmesan cheese onto the top of the pasta and marinara. Any left over sauce should be refrigerated, and you can use it again with another meal.

finished

There are several variations to this tried and true recipe. Sometimes I like to add finely chopped vegetables I find in my fridge such as zucchini, mushrooms, onions, or green peppers. You could even throw in some cooked ground turkey or beef into the sauce in its final stages to add some meat. Marinara sauce is extremely customizable, so play around with it until you find a recipe that you love.

By Abby Kempf

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