Thursday, August 12, 2010

Homemade Marinara Sauce & Ways to Save Money

I love tomato sauce. Love it. I use loads of any tomato-based sauce like salsa, pico de gallo and marinara whenever I can (I don't, however, like plain tomatoes which I find weird). As my friend Becca says, "I could eat salsa with a spoon." And I'm right next to her, spoon in hand.

However, while I've made fresh salsa, for some reason, I've never tried making my own marinara sauce. I don't know why it's taken me so much time! It's delicious. Bryant thought this was a great "summertime" marinara sauce. Light and fresh. We still have leftovers and I froze half so we'll be enjoying this for quite some time!

A couple changes I made: I used both fresh tomatoes from the farmers market as well as canned whole tomatoes in this sauce although you could use 2 28-oz cans of crushed tomatoes (Cook's Illustrated recommends Muir Glen brand for crushed tomatoes). Another difference was that I cooked mine in a slow cooker although the original recipe is on the stove. Finally, I added more spices and 1/4 cup of red wine to give a bit more richness to the sauce.

Also, before I share the recipe, I wanted to share a way to save money on groceries! I'm always looking for ways to save - I look at grocery circulars, compare prices (my dad and I sometime discuss milk prices at grocery stores), cut coupons, print internet get the point. However, one way that is a GREAT way to save money in the kitchen is your local co-operative. A co-op has the BEST prices on spices, hands down. I recently refilled my bay leaf container for 26 CENTS and my dried oregano container for 25 cents. They're typically $2-3 at the grocery store. That really adds up! Also, you can buy as much or as little as you like. So, for example, I had been putting off trying recipes because you only needed a teaspoon of dried ginger and I just couldn't justify shelling out a few bucks for an entire container. However, at a co-op I could get just a tiny amount of these lesser-used spices. They also have cheap bulk foods with different kinds of oats, flours, dried fruit, trail mix, nuts, etc. I even found REAL maple syrup in bulk - grade B, of course. (My family is a bunch of maple syrup snobs. Seriously. We bring our own to restaurants.)

One thing about co-ops is that I believe they are often in cities so just check the internet for the closest one to you. The closest one for us is 45 minutes away so I don't go there a lot. Instead, I save up a list and pair it with some other shopping or errands to do in the city anyway.

Homemade Marinara Sauce
Taken from: AllRecipes (also, the meatball part of this recipe is excellent although I didn't use it this time)
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (Muir Glen recommended by Cook's Illustrated) OR 56 oz. of fresh tomatoes crushed in a food processor (6-7 large tomatoes)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine
-In a skillet over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is translucent.
-Add cooked onions and garlic to a slow cooker. Stir in tomatoes, salt, sugar and bay leaves.
-Cover, set on low (you can change to high if pressed for time) and cook 5-6 hours (2 hours on high). Stir in tomato paste, dried spices, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and red wine and cook on high for 30 min (or set to low and let simmer until you're ready for dinner).
-If you like a smoother marinara sauce, take about 1/4 -1/2 of the sauce and add to a blender. Blend on high for a few seconds. Add back to slow cooker. Serve with pasta (I HIGHLY recommended Ronzoni Smart Taste spaghetti. Tastes like white spaghetti but has the nutrition of whole wheat (more protein and fiber than regular spaghetti). Also, you can find a 75 cent off coupon here: Smart Taste coupon.

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