Monday, October 17, 2011

Lovely Marinara (no oil)

Here’s a thick, rich, dark red tomato sauce made without oil. Surprisingly, the supermarkets overflow with a hundred different tomato sauces. But I have yet to find one that doesn't contain oil. (Though I have heard that they do exist.)  More surprisingly, you will find that you don't miss oil one bit. I am wondering how we came to believe the old saw that "oil carries the flavor" in food. I'm just not sure it's true in all cases.

In the case of tomato sauce, I am sure it is not. Besides which, making your own is so easy—why pay for the canned variety?

1 large onion, chopped
5–6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup hearty red wine or, if you'd prefer, vegetable broth or water
2 large cans whole stewed tomatoes (make sure they don't contain added oil or sugar)
1 large can tomato paste (the only ingredient should be tomatoes)
4 fresh Roma tomatoes, diced
1 fresh red pepper, diced
3-4 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped with stems removed**
2-3 tsp fresh thyme, chopped with stems removed
4 tbsp fresh basil, chopped with stems removed
1–2 tbsp dried Italian seasonings
salt and pepper to taste

In a large stainless steel pot, add the chopped garlic and onion, along with a pinch of salt. Saute until the onion begins to brown. Add the wine or broth and deglaze the pan, stirring until all the brown bits are loosened from the pot.

Empty the cans of whole tomatoes into the pot and puree with a stick blender (or chop in a stand blender or food processor before adding.) Empty the tomato paste into the pan and stir well.

Let this simmer for 2–3 hours on low. You may wish to set the lid at a slight angle. This will allow steam to escape, and the sauce to thicken, but prevent it from spitting onto your counter.

Add the diced Romas, red peppers, and fresh herbs. Let simmer on low for another 1–2 hours. Wait for it to turn a deep red color with a hearty thickness.

Taste—and add enough dried Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to please your palate.

Stir thoroughly and serve over whole wheat or quinoa pasta.

**Fresh herbs really make a difference in any sauce. But if you can't find them or fit them into you budget, use more dried herbs. I have been shopping at a local Kroger store that regularly discounts near-date herbs and often has specials on large bundles of basil. Of course if you live in a temperate climate, you can grow them year round. If you live in Illinois, like me, you can grow fresh herbs all summer long.

1 comment:

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