Recipe: Chunky Marinara Sauce

I had a few errands to run today, along with a test to study for, and some other little projects to work on, so I wanted to make something simple for dinner; preferably, something that was made entirely with ingredients already in my pantry, fridge, and freezer. A package of frozen veal and beef, leftover from my spaghetti and mozzarella-stuffed meatballs recipe, along with a bag of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley and plenty of cans of tomatoes helped me decide to make spaghetti and meatballs with a chunky marinara sauce. Now, the meatball recipe I’ve already shared (though, for tonight’s dinner, I chose not to stuff them with mozzarella), but the marinara was just something quick and easy that I threw together in about 20 minutes. A lot of the ingredient amounts are really just approximations—the basic ingredients you need are onion, tomato, garlic, and herbs (particularly oregano), but the herbs should be measured to taste.

Serves: 4
Prep. time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, or enough to lightly coat the bottom of a pan
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1, 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1, 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • Approx. 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Approx. 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • Dried Italian seasoning and basil, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant and slightly tender, but not burnt (about 5 minutes). Add in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, dried herbs and spices, and salt and pepper. Stir to combine, and let cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Stir occasionally to keep the sauce from burning or sticking to the sides. Once cooked through and flavorful, serve. 
*If you like a smooth marinara, put the warm sauce in a food processor or use a stick/immersion blender to blend to a smooth consistency. 

The crushed red pepper flakes in this sauce kick it up a notch, and the flavors of the onion and garlic add a little tang and bite to the sauce. Despite being from a can, the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce have a fresh taste that’s brought out by the addition of herbs, salt, and pepper. This sauce is great over just about any kind of pasta, but it could also be used for a meatball sub or used as a dipping sauce for fried mozzarella or fried eggplant.
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