Marinara is a staple in our house. My hunch is this-you either open a store-bought variety or whip something up off the cuff. Either works, and until about five or so years ago, I opted for a jar of pre-made tomato sauce. When I was growing up my parents canned their own tomatoes every year. It was quite an event, actually. They had a Victorio Food (read:tomato) Strainer and it came out only once per year. My mom prepped the jars, seals and lids and then they both cleaned and then strained ungodly amounts of tomatoes. We had a storage for approximately one year-that is, after they distributed several quarts to friends and family. In those days, mom would simply heat a little olive oil, saute a handful of chopped onion and garlic and pour in the sauce to simmer. I feel like I can still smell it cooking in their kitchen. They buy cans of tomato sauce now, and so do I. I hope that Cory and I will feel motivated one day to dust off the old Victorio strainer, until then we make sauce like this:
3 tblsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup dry, red wine (optional)
1 28oz can tomato sauce (crushed is fine too if you like a thicker, sweeter sauce)
2 tblsp wet Italian herbs (I use these), or a handful of freshly chopped basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano and parsley
Freshly ground pepper
In a heavy bottomed sauce pot heat the olive oil to simmer. Add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until the onions are soft and transparent. If adding the wine, increase the heat to medium high and stir it in to deglaze the pan and cook off the alcohol for about 5-7 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the tomato sauce. Add the herbs. Continue to simmer on medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy over pasta.
A couple of cooking notes. I prefer to add red wine when I am pairing the sauce with red meat or eggplant-think richer, more complex flavor. If I’ve made chicken or pasta alone, I might omit the wine for a lighter version. One other thing. Sometimes I will add a dry Italian seasoning. More recently I seem to love dried tomato and garlic basil seasonings, something like this. I add it when I add the Italian herbs.