Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cooking Adventures: Marinara Sauce

Ever since our CSA started up again, I have been meaning to blog about all the wonderful things I make with my weekly vegetable bounty. Sometimes life’s silliness gets in the way of my plans, but I’m back on track and ready to cook up a storm.

I am not the best cook in the world, but I am willing to experiment and because of this about 75% of the things I make turn out pretty good. (I just made up that statistic.) Eating Paleo means that Danny and I exclude things like grains, dairy (a little is okay), sugars, and processed foods from our diet. That leaves meats (preferably free range and grass fed), fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and fats for us to consume. Being creative is the key to Paleo, because eating chicken with a side of vegetables every night is just boring.

When tomatoes are in season, our CSA sends us a plethora of them. I am not the type of person who can just eat a tomato like an apple, so I use them in a mixture of dishes. My favorite recipe thus far, is marinara sauce because it is simple, can be used in a multitude of dishes, and can be freezed for the harsh tomatoless winter months.

I found this simple recipe for Marinara Sauce on the Food Network’s Website. The recipe is courtesy of Michael Chiarello.


• 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

• 3 large cloves garlic, minced (I always add extra…we get a lot of garlic in our CSA)

• 4 cups of tomato puree (If I have more, which usually I do, I just add it to the pot…and I’ve never noticed a difference. I make the tomato puree in my magic bullet, which is not that magical. You can use a food processor or a blender. Simply chop up the tomatoes and press blend or pulse…whatever)

• 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves (Again, something I often have on hand because of the good old CSA)

• 1 large fresh basil stem with leaves removed (I chop up the leaves and throw them in there, it looks, and tastes prettier that way)

• 1 teaspoon of sea salt, preferably gray salt (I don’t know what gray salt is, I use plain sea salt, and I don’t measure)

• The recipe does not call for pepper, but I add it because it just seems like a good idea


Heat the olive oil in a large pot over moderate heat. Add the garlic and sauté until caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add the pureed tomatoes to the garlic and bring to a simmer. Add the parsley, basil, and salt. Simmer until reduced to a sauce like consistency, about 15 minutes. Add more time, if you add extra stuff like I do.

Michael says that if the sauce tastes too acidic, add baking soda and cook 5 more minutes. If it needs a touch of sweetness add sugar and cook for 5 more minutes. I find that as long as you have good tomatoes the sauce doesn’t need any sugar or baking soda, which is good considering I’m not supposed to have sugar. Remove the basil stem before serving.

I like to use the marinara sauce in a flourless chicken parmesan recipe, a Paleo lasagna, and as a side for vegetables. It is also wonderful for meatballs with spaghetti squash. If you aren’t on a Paleo diet, I would use it for mozzarella sticks or some delicious starchy pasta.


Garlic and Fresh Basil
Chop it up!
Not so Magical Bullet time
Pulse it!
Chip chop chip...the basil
No parsley this week from the CSA, had to result to the dried stuff
Wahhh La!


  1. Do you roast the tomatoes first?

  2. Nope, just dice them a bit, you probably could roast them...I'm sure it would taste good.

  3. I think I want to try that...