Everyday Food Blog

slow-cooked marinara

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My boyfriend’s mother makes the best marinara sauce—she has never divulged all the ingredients she uses to me but I suspect it tastes so good because she lets it cook for hours. So I gave it a shot one cold winter weekend, cooking up a large batch so I could freeze it for use throughout the coming winter weeks.

I bought about six cans (28 ounces each) of my favorite whole peeled tomatoes, tomato paste, yellow onions, garlic, and fresh basil. I finely chopped about three cups of yellow onions and minced almost the full head of garlic. I heated about 3 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat and then added the onions. Once they were translucent, I added the garlic, a heaping tablespoon dried oregano, and some red-pepper flakes. I cooked that for 2 to 3 minutes before I added about 2 tablespoons tomato paste. (I cleared a spot in the center of the onions and garlic to allow the paste to caramelize before I stirred it into the vegetables—a trick I learned from a my favorite minestrone recipe.)

I then added all the cans of tomatoes, about 1 full can of water (add water to each of the empty cans to catch all those lingering juices), and several sprigs of basil. I let it come to a simmer before I used a potato masher to start breaking up the tomatoes (they are easy to break up once they have cooked a bit). The sauce cooked for about three to four hours. I added more water, seasonings, and salt and pepper to taste as it cooked. It turned out great and made the whole apartment (and building) smell great. I used it that same day on crostini with Parmesan shavings, the next day to make several lasagnas, then froze the rest for future use.

Comments (4)

  • avatar

    Do you think carrots have a place in marinara? I like them for sweetness and to bump up the vegetable serving. Or is that just sacrilege?

  • avatar

    This dish sounds wonderful. I only wish she had mentioned what seasonings she used at the end.

  • avatar Author Comment:

    My final seasonings were just more salt and pepper and a bit more dried oregano and red-pepper flakes (I just tasted and added what I thought was missing).

    As far as carrots go, I think it's up to the cook (I am not an Italian purist). I use them when I make a red sauce with ground meat, and I imagine they would add some natural sweetness to this sauce to help balance the acidity of the tomatoes. My sister likes to add a bit of sugar to her marinara for sweetness, but I would go the carrot route rather than add sugar.

  • avatar

    Hanna - my daughter was very sensitive to tomatoes when she was younger. she used to get a rash on her face so we used to add lots of carrots to our "tomato" sauce. Sometimes we even made a sauce with only carrots.

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