Homemade marinara has always intimidated me. While it’s so easy to buy pre-made sauce at the store, if you look at the ingredients list, the jars are often full of sugar and preservatives. When we took a cooking class in Italy a few years ago, I discovered that making my own sauce is not nearly as difficult or time-consuming as I thought it would be.
This is not the recipe we learned how to make in Tuscany, but a variation I created one day while trying to use up some extra veggies I had in the fridge. This version gives the opportunity to add more flavor and some sweetness by using vegetables in the sauce. Since it all ends up pureed, this is an easy way to serve your unsuspecting kids more veggies. I love that it makes an easy, all-in-one-dish meal.
- two 16-oz cans of organic tomato sauce
- 1 organic zucchini
- 1 organic red bell pepper (seeds & core removed)
- 2-3 organic carrots (peeled)
- 1/2 yellow onion (peeled)
- 6 cloves of garlic (peeled)
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons sea salt
- 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
- 5-6 leaves of fresh basil
- Roughly chop the veggies, onion and garlic.
- Add the veggies to a deep pot with the olive oil and cook over medium-low temperature until soft. This usually takes around 15 minutes; the smaller your veggie pieces, the faster they will soften.
- Add the tomato sauce.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the veggies into the sauce.
- Add the salt and crushed red pepper to taste and let simmer on low until you are ready to serve.
- When you remove from heat, add some chopped fresh basil.
- Serve over pasta or spaghetti squash with fresh mozzarella or Parmesan cheese.
To add some protein, make it a ragu / bolognese by adding cooked Italian sausage to the sauce. I also love to add in even more veggies at this point by mixing in some chopped kale or spinach that I have sauteed with shallots.