Okay, it's not a secret family recipe. This is how I make my homemade marinara sauce. I love this marinara sauce, and it brings Spaghetti Tuesday to a whole new level. When I was visiting my family recently in Georgia, I taught my sister how to make this, and it was all the rage in her household. She even froze it and made it a week later, still tasting great! It's so simple, and if you make this for your next family dinner, or friends night, I assure you they're going to think your grandmother came over and slaved over the stove all day! Shhh.... it'll be our little secret how easy it is! This sauce pairs well with a glass (or bottle if that's how you roll) of your favorite red wine and friends and family.
8 oz. Baby Bella mushrooms, chopped finely
1 28oz. can of tomato sauce
1 28oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes
1 Can of stewed tomatoes
1 Small can of tomato paste
1 Stalk of Celery (plus leaves if available)
3 Cloves of garlic thinly sliced
Salt and Pepper
1 1/2 Tablespoons of dried herbs of your choice (Italian blend, oregano, etc.)
1/2 Teaspoon red pepper flakes.
Half of a large onion
1/4 Cup red wine (My favorite is Pinot Noir)
1 Teaspoon of freshly chopped rosemary
3-6 Chopped fresh basil leaves
The prep work for this sauce is the hardest and most time consuming part (and it doesn't take long). The rest of the time is allowing this sauce to simmer slowly, allowing all the magic to happen.
Take your onion, 1 carrot (leaving 1 carrot aside for the simmering), celery stalk (and leaves if you have them) and run through a food processor until chopped small. Thinly slice garlic longways (like sliced almonds). Thinly slice and chop your shallot. Wipe off your mushrooms with a damp paper towel to remove dirt. Don't put the mushrooms under running water. Finely chop the mushrooms. Chop fresh herbs. Then, take your can of whole peeled tomatoes and pour into a bowl (don't drain off the liquid). With your hands, gently squeeze and squish the tomatoes to create a sauce.
In a large dutch oven or sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add carrot, celery, onion mixture, and shallot and season with some salt. Sautee for 1-2 minutes, then add garlic, and season with a tad of salt. Sautee for another minute or so and then add mushrooms. After 1 - 2 minutes more, add tomato paste and stir. After about 30 seconds, add wine and simmer until most of the alcohol cooks off, about a minute. Add all the remaining tomatoes, entire carrot, red pepper flakes and dried and fresh herbs. Season once more with salt and pepper and a quick pour (about half a teaspoon) of olive oil on top of the sauce. Stir and slowly simmer with lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape. Simmer for 45 minutes to over an hour, stirring occasionally. After 45 minutes or so, taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper as needed. The longer the sauce cooks, the more the flavor develops. After sauce is done, remove the entire carrot and discard.
This sauce is amazing over cooked pasta, the sauce for your favorite lasagna recipe, or anywhere marinara sauce is called for.
Wondering why we had a whole carrot, and then throw it away?
I was taught a while ago that adding an entire carrot to your tomato sauce absorbs the acid. I thought this was an old wives tale, so I took a bite of the carrot after cooking it, and it was so bitter! I'm not sure of the chemistry behind it, but it works!