After a few cases of using half the bottle of the store bought sauces, leaving it in the fridge, and open it a few weeks later only to find it mouldy and quite unusable, I decided that it was time to make my own sauce. The work might be a bit more, but I certainly think that the flavour is unmatched.
What you need:
- 1⁄2 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2-3 medium tomatoes, diced or a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 10 Basil leaves, chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1⁄2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar (optional)
- Salt to taste
How to make it:
- Sweat the onions in olive oil until they just become translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. This is not a saute, you don’t want the onions to brown, but just release their moisture. Sprinkling a little salt helps with this.
- Add the garlic and sweat for another minute. You’re trying to get the garlic flavour, but without browning the garlic.
- Add the diced tomatoes and mix well. Toss in the basil leaves, the dried herbs and the crushed red pepper. If you don’t have fresh basil, substitute a teaspoon of dried basil instead.
- Cover and let it cook for about 5-10 minutes or until the tomatoes have lost their raw smell.
- Stir in the balsamic vinegar and let it cook for another two minutes. Though this is optional, I personally think that it gives a better flavour to the sauce.
- Take the pot off the cooktop and allow the mixture to cool a bit before blending it to a sauce.
- You now have your basic marinara sauce. You can use it in any recipe that calls for it. If the sauce seems a little too sour, then sweeten it a bit by adding a bit of sugar.
This is probably the most versatile sauce that I can think of. As a base, you can make a gravy of sauteed vegetables mixed with this sauce and pasta to make a quick meal, or you could kick it up a notch with vodka and heavy cream to make vodka sauce.
You can adjust pretty much anything in this sauce – the herbs give it an intense flavour, the crushed red pepper gives it heat, while the balsamic vinegar gives it tartness.