Friends have often told me that it's so easy to make homemade pasta sauces that there's no good reason to rely on store-bought sauces, which aren't nearly as good. And I've tried a few times to make my own pasta sauces, but I just kept returning to bottled versions out of habit and convenience more than anything else. In any case, a marinara sauce such as this one may finally make a believer out of me. It's delicious! Furthermore, the recipe is very simple, uses basic ingredients that I usually have at home, and the end result can be divided into smaller portions and frozen for future use. How can you go wrong with that? This recipe comes from one of my favorite recipe blogs--My Kitchen Cafe.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 (28-ounce each) cans crushed tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter (optional but delicious)
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Add the onion and garlic and saute, stirring very frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until all the vegetables are slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano and bay leaves and simmer, covered, on low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to make sure the sauce isn't sticking to the bottom of the pot, until slightly thickened and the vegetables are completely tender. Stir in the brown sugar. Taste the sauce. Add salt and pepper as needed. Add the butter and stir to combine if you want to round out the flavors and add a dimension of silkiness.
Remove the bay leaves. In a blender or food processor, blend the sauce (in several batches, if necessary) until it is smooth. The sauce can be frozen once it is cooled completely in freezer-safe ziploc bags for up to 6 months.
*Makes about 7 cups of sauce