Basic Marinara Sauce

This recipe is for a very basic marinara sauce done in a large batch style. It can stand alone as a dipping sauce (it’s quite thick), serve as a red pizza sauce base, sauce for lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, eggplant and chicken parmesan, etc.

I like to make a very large batch and freeze it in quart size deli containers. I typically use tomatoes from my garden either fresh, or frozen whole and thawed. When home grown tomatoes are not available, canned tomatoes such as San Marzano whole peeled can be used.

In this recipe I omit Oregano, which may surprise some. I find that it is very strong and can easily overpower the sauce, so I add it later, when I am using the sauce for dishes that are complimented by it.

This recipe is designed to be able to be reduced b 1/2 or 1/3 of the amounts here to allow for smaller batches with the same flavor.

Ingredients

12 Cups Whole Tomatoes, peeled (fresh, frozen or canned)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
6 Cups Yellow Onion, diced
1 1/2 Cups Carrot, diced
1 1/2 Cups Celery, diced
1 1/2 Cups Red or Yellow Bell Pepper, diced
2 Shallots, diced
6 Garlic cloves, minced
4 Bay Leaves, Whole
1 Cup torn Sweet Basil leaves
1 Tablespoon Rosemary leaves, fresh removed from stem
1/2 Cup Italian Parsley, rough chopped
12 oz. Tomato Paste
1 Tablespooon Salt
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat until warmed.
  2. Add onion, carrot, celery, peppers, and shallots.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to brown and release sugars.
  4. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent over browning of vegetables.
  5. When garlic is soft, add remaining ingredients to the pot.
  6. Continue to cook over medium heat until sauce begins to boil.
  7. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover with a lid and allow sauce to cook for at least 2 hours until carrots are of a consistence that they can be mashed and the tomatoes are completely cooked.
  8. Remove from heat and remove bay leaves from sauce. Allow sauce to cool.
  9. Using an immersion blender, food processor or regular blender, puree the cooked vegetables into a smooth sauce. For a chunkier sauce, just pulse a few times with the blender you are using.

Seed Tape – DIY

You can buy Seed Tape versions of seed from many on-line catalog seed retailers and I now see it offered in local home improvement stores in the seed section each spring. The advantage of Seed Tape is that small seed types such as carrot, spinach and radish are properly spaced to reduce or avoid the amount of thinning you have to do when planting these tiny seeds straight from a packet. The downside of this approach is the expense. So I learned to make my own seed tape.

I’ve found this is great late winter, bad weather day activity. I can start “planting” my garden by planting the seeds in my seed tape substrate: Toilet Paper. Yep, that’s right, I plant my seeds in biodegradable toilet paper. I don’t want the expensive, extra layer, fluffy, quilted stuff for this job. I want that really thin, scratchy kind you’d find in a port-a-potty. It breaks down faster and saves money.

Later, when it is time to plant, all I have to do is bury the seed tape per the package directions with a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of fresh garden soil, water and wait for the perfectly spaced seedlings to emerge.

Seed Tape Supplies

  • Any kind of small seeds
  • Ziplock baggies or containers marked with type of seed tape to go in it.
  • 1 Tablespoon Corn Starch
  • 1 Cup Cold Water
  • Toilet paper – measured out in 2 foot lengths, very compostable type
  • Any Squeeze type bottle (you can wash out and use an empty mustard or ketchup bottle or find one in the travel container isle)
  • Funnel for pouring mixture into squeeze bottle.
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Toothpicks
  • Small plate

Instructions

  1. Dissolve cornstarch in cold water and cook over medium heat until it boils and thickens.  Mixture should look opaque and cling slightly to a fork before dripping off. This will be your “glue” for getting the seeds to stick to the toilet paper.
  2. Let it cool and add a couple drops of food coloring if using. Adding the food coloring is actually optional, but it will make your “glue dots” easier to see. Pick a color that makes you happy.
  3. Using the funnel, transfer your cornstarch glue to a squeeze bottle for easier application.
  4. Using a 2 foot length of toilet paper, squeeze dots of cornstarch glue on the lower half of the strip.  Space the glue dots as directed on seed packet for planting spacing.  This is where reduction of thinning after planning is achieved.
  5. Place a seed on top of each dot.  Fold the toilet paper over and press seeds in.  Let dry completely.
  6. Store in a plastic bag or container until you are ready to plant along with the seed packet for planting directions and easy identification.

Notes: I typically use a plate and toothpick to handle the tiny seeds.. I put some of the seeds on the plate, and then dip the toothpick in a bit of glue to pick up a seed and then transfer it to a glue dot. Has always worked for me, but if you have better ideas or suggestions, please let me know.