I have grown up making tomato sauce at home for spaghetti or lasagna, but it was always a quick recipe. Today however I wanted to start with my more detailed marinara sauce. This will be the base for a meat sauce as well. I love this recipe, because it has a lot of flavor! It takes more time to cook but has just about the same hands-on work in the beginning. It was also a recipe I first started making when I was trying to cut refined sugar from my cooking. So many tomato recipes contain sugar. The sugar is used to cut the bitterness found in cooked tomatoes. A taste that children really don’t like. But with a little help from another addition, you can avoid that bitterness and bring out the sweeter side of tomatoes.
What is that secret addition? Carrots! Believe it or not adding carrots to your sauce will not only add vitamins but also sweeten your sauce because they are naturally sweet. So, trust me add the carrots! You will be cooking and pureeing them in the sauce. This will allow the vitamins to stay in the sauce instead of boiling out into water and picky eaters won’t know they are getting a vegetable. You then will get to high five yourself for adding vitamins A, K, C, potassium, calcium, iron, and fiber into a delicious meal.
For the sauce you need good tomatoes. Don’t just buy whatever is on sale in the canned isle. It’s important to use a good starting point. Tomatoes from the can will be either salty or sweet, have basil or no basil, or be whole or chopped. We have tried several brands and found a few we really like.
Cento– San Marzano tomatoes have a great taste cold and warm. These come with basil in the can and are packed with whole tomatoes and juice. They can be found at most stores and online.
7/11- Are a crushed tomato that has a sweeter flavor. They are great if you prefer a less salty sauce.
Alta Cucina– These have a large plum tomato that is whole and in a sauce with basil. They are slightly saltier than the 7/11, but not much. Because they are whole you can crush them as you like and keep a chunkier sauce by setting aside some while pureeing the rest.
We use all three of those tomato brands equally. It honestly depends upon what I have on the shelf and how large a pot I am cooking. Try them out and see which is your favorite. Enjoy!
Marinara Pasta Sauce
- 6lb 7oz. can whole tomato in sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 2 lg carrots
- 1 cup sweet onion chopped
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- In a large pot sauté chopped onion until slightly soft, but not caramelized or brown. Peel and remove ends of carrots, then chop into two-inch chunks. Add the carrot chunks, garlic cloves, basil, and oregano to the pot with the onions. Stir around for about a minute, then add the tomatoes to mixture. Turn heat to a medium low and allow the mixture to come to a low simmer. Let this mixture simmer for an hour or two, stirring on occasion. Keep cooking until the liquid has reduced and thickened and the carrots have become soft all the way through. This may take longer than the expected, so be patient. This is where the flavor is increased, and the excess liquid disappears. When the carrots are fully soft and sauce has reduced at least an inch, use a blender or hand immersion blender to finely chop and blend the soft carrot and garlic into the sauce. Taste sauce and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve as is or cook ground beef and add to sauce.