Italian food is one of my favorite types of food, probably not the healthiest, but what can I say? I love my carbs, especially when they are loaded down with greatmarinara and cheese. Pair it with a salad (see I’m trying) and I’m on Cloud 9. The problem is this: I don’t know how to make marinara and am tired of using jar sauces, because let’s face it, they all taste like crap in comparison to a completely homemade sauce.
So with a little research I am now prepared to face my demons and actually cook a 100% homemade sauce. If only I could make homemade noodles, but let’s not get crazy.
I’ve found a great basic marinara and some additional recipes that add to it with a few mix-ins, from sausage to shrimp.
I do suggest growing your own tomatoes, heirloom prefarably. The store bought tomatoes just don’t taste like real tomatoes anymore but that is a topic I plan on avoiding at the moment. Also, while you’re out buying supplies for your new tomatoe garden go ahead and pick up supplies for a small herb garden. Be sure to include oregano and basil because you’ll rarely find an italian recipe without them.
What you’ll need…
- Olive Oil (1/4 cup)
- 2 Large Onions, finely chopped
- 2 Medium Carrots, grated
- Kosher Salt & Pepper
- 8 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
- Chopped Fresh Oregano (1/4 cup)
- 10 cups peeled and seeded Tomatoes
What to do…
1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Cook and stir occassionally until very tender and beginning to brown, 15-20 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and oregano and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Be sure to NOT let it brown.
3. Add the tomatoes and their juices, squashing the tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the pot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 45-55 minutes.
- You can freeze the sauce by letting it cool to room temperature and transfering to a freezer saver container. This usually lasts 2 monthes, just to be safe.
Basic marinara is wonderful, and this recipe is the best I’ve found thus far, but I get bored easily and wanted to expand this one meal to include four others. So go ahead and make a big batch of the marinara and plan on enjoying many creative meals in your near future!
Italian Sausage & Spinach Sauce
Active: 25 minutes / Total: 25 minutes / Serves 4
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 lb italian sausage (castings removed) and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 5-7 minutes. Add 1 bunch of washed spinach (stems removed), season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss and mix everything for 1 minute. Add 2 cups of marinara (that you conveniently made earlier) and simmer until heated through, about 3 minutes. Toss with 12 oz cooked orechiette pasta or other short pasta. Serve with a dallop of ricotta cheese.
Active: 30 minutes / Total: 30 minute / Serves 4
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 medium eggplant (cut into 1/2-inch pieces), season with 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender, 12-15 minutes. Add 2 cups marinara and simmer until heated through, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup fresh basil (torn) and 4 oz bocconcini (small balls fresh mozzarella; halved). Toss with 12 oz cooked penne or other short pasta.
Spicy Mushroom & Parsley Sauce
Active: 30 minutes / Total: 30 minutes / Serves 4
Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 oz shiitake mushrooms (sliced) and 8 oz small button mushrooms (quartered). Season with 1/4 tsp salt and cook, stirring often, until golden brown and tender, about 12 minutes. Add 1 red chile (thinly sliced) and cook, tossing, for 1 minute; stir in 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley (chopped). Add 2 cups marinara and simmer until heated through, about 3 minutes. Toss with 12 oz cooked linguine or othe rlong pasta. Serve with tons of grated parmesan!
Shrimp Puttanesca Sauce
Active: 25 minutes / Total: 25 minutes / Serves 4
Using a vegetable peeler, remove 4 strips of zest from a lemon; thinly slice the zest. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Season 1 lb large peeled and deveined shrimp with 1/4 tsp salt and cook, tossing occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup kalamata olives (halved), 1 tbsp capers and the lemon zest and toss to combine. Add 2 cups marinara and simmer until the sauce is heated through and the shrimp are opaque throughout, about 4 minutes. Toss with 12 oz cooked fettucine or othe rlong pasta.
Alex Sherman is a young entrepreneur with a passion for the environment and blogging. He spent his youth in the North Georgia mountains exploring the woods and learning about the wilderness. This passion and respect for our environment motivated him to join local environmental organizations, such as S.E.A.T. The tools and experience he gained motivated him to create the Green Life Pages. The Green Life Pages is an online health and wellness publication with a green business directory and home remedies.