We used to have this pizza place near our house that ran the perfect special for us. A two topping pizza and an order of cheese bread. So many places run specials on multiple pizzas or pizzas and wings, just way to much food for two people. Well this was perfect, it gave us enough pizza for a lunch the next day after we finished our dinner. But the best part was the sauce they gave you to dip the cheese bread in. Our standard order included extra sauce. One time I asked one of the owners who made the sauce what the secret was and while she wouldn’t give me the recipe she did tell me she put a couple roasted red peppers into it.
So we had been making this marinara sauce recipe that we found in college online somewhere – I don’t know exactly where as it’s been a decade since I printed the recipe off, and it was long before Pinterest where I save everything today or before I thought I would have a food blog and need to credit something. And let me tell you searching for a recipe from a decade ago using the keywords “marinara sauce” is virtually impossible. So anyway, we’ve been making this marinara sauce for about 5 years and then I ask the pizza place their secret, and decide to apply it to my marinara sauce. It was a hit. It adds this complexity to the sauce but at the same time you would never know about the roasted red peppers if I didn’t tell you. It’s still great without, and when I make it for North Dakota I skip the peppers because my Uncle doesn’t like them.
Here’s what you need:
(I’m making a double batch today)
We’re going to start by sautéing a bunch of onion and some garlic. I don’t love chunky sauce so I mince the onions pretty fine – even though it’s going to go through an immersion blender it works best if you start with relatively finely chopped onion. Cook it over medium heat in some olive oil until the onion gets translucent but before it begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
Now we’re going to pour in a little bit of wine. I used a cabernet sauvignon. I don’t drink a lot of wine on my own (I know it’s a shock!) so I really like the small black box wines to use in cooking. I think they’re a good quality (at least people who drink wine tell me so) and that’s important to use a good wine in cooking. The alcohol will cook out so this is safe for kids, but if you absolutely don’t want to use wine you can use chicken stock.
Then pour in the tomato sauce and the roasted red peppers if you’re using them. I give them a rough chop and throw in about a quarter cup.
Doesn’t it look like those are red onions? Nope, they are white just drunk on wine.
Next it’s time to season it. I add basil, oregano, salt and pepper. I’ve used both dried and fresh basil and oregano. The fresh herbs give it a little bit more vibrant flavor but both are good. It can pretty much be a pantry sauce when you use dried.
Now just let it simmer away for a half hour or so. I like to taste it along the way as I stir to see if it needs a little more salt, or sometimes a pinch of sugar to balance the acid in the tomatoes.
Now because I like my marinara to be smoother rather than really chunky, I use my trusty immersion blender. You can blend it as smooth as you like, or completely skip this step. I didn’t do it until I’d been making the sauce for a while. I started after I received the blender as a present.
Now you have a nice big pot of marinara sauce that’s ready to enjoy! This is also super easy to double or triple to make extra (in fact, in all the pictures, I’m making a double batch).
I’m going to take this sauce and in a couple days show you my recipe for Stuffed Shells.
- 1 T olive oil
- 1-2 sweet onions, minced
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- ½ c red wine
- 29 oz tomato sauce
- ¼ c of roasted red pepper, chopped (optional)
- 1 t basil, dried (or 1 T fresh)
- 1 t oregano, dried (or 1 T fresh)
- Kosher salt
- In a large saucepan saute the onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until the onions become translucent but don’t brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add wine, tomato sauce, roasted red pepper (if using) basil and oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce to your desired consistency.
- Serve with your favorite pasta dish.