Driving home from work last night in the cold, snowy Ohio twilight, I started to crave spaghetti sauce. So I dug through the pantry and put together my version of my Mom’s marinara sauce.
I think of this as a winter sauce because one, that’s really the only time I want to make it, and two, it can be made almost entirely with ingredients from the cupboards and freezer.
It always starts with a beef roast of some kind – I happened to have a pot roast in the freezer. I defrosted the roast a little in the microwave, salted and peppered it, then browned it with some olive oil in a big, heavy pot.
I removed the roast from the pan and turned down the heat. I added a bit more olive oil and the garlic (3 big cloves) and onion (1/2 a big onion) finely chopped.
I added a palmful of italian seasoning and let it saute until the onions were soft and translucent. At this point, you could add a slug of red wine to deglaze the pan, but I didn’t have any handy. (Amazing, right?)
I added two big cans of tomato sauce to deglaze, then added two cans of crushed tomatoes. I use whatever I have on hand – crushed, diced, Mom sometimes uses whole tomatoes and does a quick spin in the blender. Just depends on how smooth or chunky you want your sauce.
After the canned tomatoes, I added a couple tablespoons of tomato paste as well. I only recently found the tubes of tomato paste at the grocery store, and I love it! The cans felt so wasteful-especially when I only needed a small amount.
Atir everything up, add the roast back in, cover and simmer until it smells so good you have to dig in!
I had some whole wheat cheese tortilini in the fridge, so I cooked that up, and added a sprinkle of good parmesean cheese. Perfect cold weather meal!
Ooo, one tip – if you don’t like a lot of onions in your sauce, skip the chopped onions. Instead, take a whole white onion and add it to the sauce when you add the roast. When the sauce is ready, take the onion out. You get a subtle onion taste without the onion pieces!
Now, this makes a BIG pot of sauce. So I froze some, and I have some for lunch, but maybe I’ll do something different with the rest. Mom’s stuffed shells recipe is sounding pretty good right now…