The holidays have been flying by for me.
I know – Christmas is still at least a few weeks away, but it feels like I hardly have enough time to do all the baking I intended to do, to accomplish all my Christmas shopping, and to adequately enjoy the Christmas spirit. It is the best time of year, after all. Between getting ready for holiday parties, baking, assembling gifts, and seeing friends and family, on top of working my daily job, I feel it necessary to put cooking extravagant daily meals on the (for lack of better word) back burner.
Having a clutch recipe like this basic marinara sauce is key.
I make one big batch, and from there, can either freeze different portions or use it in a variety of different, easy ways. Yes, sometimes that includes just boiling pasta and serving it with a side salad. But having the marinara on hand eliminates the dependence on store-bought marinara. Don’t get me wrong, store-bought marinara is great in a pinch, but if you’re concerned with controlling what you’re eating, and how much sugar you’re consuming (perhaps to balance the other foods you’ll be consuming around the holidays), then homemade marinara is where it’s at.
This marinara sauce takes virtually no time to whip up.
However, especially since I’m cooking for two more often than not, I find myself with tons of extra sauce leftover. That means I often end up portioning it out into freezer bags and freezing for an easy dinner some time in the future: sauce heated up and served atop a bed of pasta. It doesn’t always have to be this way, though. There are so many uses for marinara besides just serving it on top of noodles. In fact, I have three diverse ways of using leftover marinara! Two of these recipes require smaller portions of my marinara recipe, so they’re ideal for a week of meal prep, or if you just happen to have leftovers.
On its own, marinara is a pretty hearty, flavourful sauce, but that doesn’t mean it can’t simultaneously be a blank canvas of sorts. You can always add new spices or herbs to the mix to transform it into something completely new. For example, it is a thickening agent that lends a tomato-y goodness and flavour to my lentil stew. But I flavour the lentils independently, and the marinara just adopts those flavours.
Check out these 3 ways I love to utilize this marinara recipe!
- Baked Gnocchi with Garlic, Peppers, and Italian Sausage (requires ½ recipe of marinara)
- Healthy Baked Eggplant Parmesan (requires 1 recipe)
- Lentil Stew (requires ½ recipe)
All these meals are healthy, delicious, and quick! Less time cooking, more time roasting chestnuts by an open fire, or watching Christmas movies with a mug of eggnog!
Here’s the marinara recipe:
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
- ¼ c. water
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. sugar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large skillet or shallow pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Add onions and a hint of salt and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add minced garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is really fragrant, another 2-3 minutes.
- Slowly stir in crushed tomatoes. Fill the empty can with water, and swirl it around to collect the extra bits of tomato stuck to the sides of the can. Pour into the sauce and stir.
- Season with dried herbs and sugar.
- Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the sauce tightens up slightly.
- Adjust salt and pepper, to taste.