Another Friday, another Kitchen Adventure to share!
I’m in Jersey City for the day, and it’s dreary as can be.
But let’s not small talk about the weather – let’s talk homemade marinara sauce instead.
I had always believed that only the true Italians could accomplish the delicious flavor profiles of homemade marinara sauce. I had thought that Prego and Ragu was for semi-homemade, cooking-challenged Sometimes Healthy girls like myself.
But, as I mentioned last week, my new REAL kitchen has spurred me to go places this city-living girl had never dreamed of a year ago.
On Tuesday, I put myself in the “Giada” mind frame and cooked up my first ever homemade marinara sauce. Here’s how it all went down.
Another thing that has kept me away from marinara sauce thus far is that the BF is from New Jersey and thus quite picky about his Italian food – apparently NJ is where you go to to get the quality Italian food. In Nebraska, where I’m from, I considered quality Italian food to be Olive Garden, Fazolis and a place called Spaghetti Works.
So, when I looked to create the perfect marinara, I knew where to go first: Giada De Laurentiis.
Giada is the queen of relatable Italian cuisine, and I feel like she can get away with anything and come out looking cute and adorable. Other celebrity chefs like Rachael Rae and Sandra Lee, tend to get on people’s nerves…but not Giada. Nope, everything she does is just perfection.
So anyway, I researched a few recipes, using Giada’s recipe as my base and adjusting accordingly, based on my taste buds and what I had in the pantry.
The result was a thick, flavorful and authentic-tasting marinara sauce that tasted good on its own and even better on top of pasta and spaghetti squash.
Sometimes Healthy Homemade Marinara Sauce
Cook TIme: 60 minutes
Ingredients: (makes 4 servings)
- 1 (32 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks finely, chopped
- 2 cups mushrooms, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped oregano
- 2 dried bay leaves
- kosher salt, pepper and dry basil/oregano to taste
- Optional: diced chicken
- In a large pot, heat oil on medium-high; add mushrooms and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes.
- Add carrots, celery, kosher salt and pepper to taste and fresh basil and oregano; saute for 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
- Add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer uncovered for about an hour; sauce should thicken. Sample sauce midway through and add dried basil and oregano to taste.
- While sauce thickens, cook 4-6 chicken tenders in a non-stick pan, adding salt and pepper to taste; chop chicken and add to sauce when there are 10 minutes left on the clock.
- Serve as dipping sauce or over spaghetti (or spaghetti squash!)
I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make my own marinara sauce!
The BF is not a fan of spaghetti squash (he’ll get there, trust me), so I served his over whole wheat angel hair spaghetti sauce, with a generous portion of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
For this Sometime Healthy Girl, I cooked up some spaghetti squash, threw it in a casserole dish and topped with 3/4 cup sauce, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.
I then baked it in the oven for about 15 minutes at 425 degrees.
The marinara sauce took my ordinary baked spaghetti squash to a whole new level. I ate it for dinner and then gobbled up the leftover for lunch the very next day.
I will most definitely be making this sauce again! Just like the whipped cream, I built up this idea in my head that making it would be so complicated. It’s really not. The secret to a good sauce = patience and fresh herbs.
Next week, I’ll be sharing a recipe for Dark Chocolate Coconut Cookies. This was a kitchen adventure, because I’ve never made cookies from my own recipe. I used guidance from Baker Bettie who has a great post about how to create your own cookie, and I think they turned out pretty good!
My live-in food critic gave them the thumbs up, and that’s as good as five stars in my book. (I think it was due to a super-secret ingredient which I will share with you next week!)
Off to finish some work, avoid the rain and celebrate NATIONAL DONUT DAY!
Dunkin Donuts gave me free munchkins AND a donut. Best.day.ever.
What’s one food you’re afraid of baking/cooking from scratch? Have you ever tried? What’s holding you back?
What is the secret to your marinara sauce?
Favorite Donut? (I just tried DD’s Apple Crumb. It’s my new favorite, followed by Blueberry Cake)