This is my fastest, simplest marinara– and so much better than store-bought. It is a real treasure, because it is luscious and slow-simmered, but can still be on the table in half an hour. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but the truth is that “slow” doesn’t have to mean “all day.” Generally, flavors can meld with a good 20-25 minute simmer after bringing the sauce to a full boil. I had the chance to test this theory several months ago when I suddenly got a call that friends were coming to dinner– and would be at the Small Table in 45 minutes. Yikes!!
Pasta is always a good option to feed one or a crowd, and this recipe can be up-and-downsized as needed. To get the smoothness that does this sauce justice, you will need an immersion blender (also called a “stick” blender), or you can just use an actual blender. I prefer the “stick,” because it is so much easier to wield–like a blending light saber. (Sorry– a little galactic nerdiness escaped there.)
This recipe relies on a can of diced tomatoes. If at all possible, use “fire-roasted.” This may sound like a big deal, but actually my local grocery carries them under the store-brand label. They should not be too hard to find.
Marinara sauce technically does not contain meat, but sometimes I add a meatball if I’m feeling carnivorous. I sometimes make my own meatballs, but for convenience I’m using organic frozen today. This sauce also contains manzanilla olives– the green ones. Even if you hate green olives, use them here. They are the right thing:
Empty the whole can of undrained, fire-roasted tomatoes into the blender cup. Add the rest of the ingredients, and blend until you have a smooth puree.
Pour the mixture into a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring constantly to avoid hot-lava-style bubble-ups. Once it boils, partially cover the pot and turn the heat (way) down– just enough to maintain a simmer in the sauce.
Leave the sauce to simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the sauce simmers, bring a separate pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta. Drain.
Stir the parmesan cheese into the sauce, heat up the optional meatball, and plate it all up. Serve with Luscious Garlic Cheese Bread for One. Buon appetito!
Note: If you feel that the sauce is very acidic, you can stir in a small pinch of baking soda after cooking. This helps to balance out the pH. I love this tip, and use it often. Please use a light touch here, as too much baking soda will make your dish taste soapy.
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