Today’s recipe is from Ally Rom Colthoff who has kindly shared her recipe for marinara.
I make this recipe a lot. Its primary ingredients keep for a long time, making it perfect for times when you’ve just gotta work with what’s already in the cupboard. It’s also extremely versatile and easy to change up or add things to!
Total time: 40 minutes | Serves 4
- 2-3 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 tbsp Minced garlic
- 1 can whole plum tomatoes
- Ground pepper
- Dried basil
- Dried oregano
- 1 box pasta
- Chili flakes (optional)
- Powdered chipotle (optional)
- Red wine (optional)
- Chop the onion and saute in olive oil on maximum heat
- When the onion starts to soften, add the minced garlic, stirring until it starts to brown.
- Add entire can of plum tomatoes (including liquid).
- Add spices and keep stirring until the sauce reaches a rolling boil.
- Allow it to boil on maximum heat for 2-3 minutes, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Use the spoon to break up the tomatoes, or a potato masher if you have one, and leave it on low heat for 40 minutes, or on medium heat for 20. The longer you simmer the sauce, the thicker and more flavourful it gets– just make sure to keep checking on it and stirring occasionally so the bottom doesn’t start to burn.
- Boil a pot of water for the pasta noodles, and cook them according to the package directions. Depending on the type of noodle and how fast I’m trying to cook the sauce, I might start this step at the same time that I reduce the heat on the marinara, or halfway through the simmering time.
- When the noodles finish cooking, strain them and serve them into bowls. When the sauce reaches a consistency you like, remove from heat and serve over the pasta. Put away any leftovers to enjoy the next day; it reheats very well.
One of the strengths of this recipe is that it can be modified to include all kinds of veggies and even meat. Here are some of the additions I like:
- 1 Bell pepper (any colour)
- 1-2 cups chopped mushrooms (cremini or button)
- 1 small Zucchini
- 1/2 lb Ground beef (or meat substitute, eg TVP)
All of these would be added in between steps 2 and 3 above (after the garlic, but before the tomatoes). You can put in just one, or all of them, depending on how you like your sauce.
If you’re planning to add ground beef, it should be the first of the extra ingredients added. Give it at least 8-10 minutes of stirring before adding the next ingredient (veggies or tomatoes), so that it can cook through with the onions and garlic. It should be thoroughly brown and broken up into small pieces. When I’m working with TVP, I’ll often add some of the spices early, so make sure it takes on some extra flavour.
The veggies should be added one type at a time. Allow each ingredient to soften before adding the next one. Mushrooms are last, because they cook so quickly; when they’ve turned brown and started to shrink, it’s time to add the tomatoes. At that point, resume the rest of the recipe from step 3.
And that’s it!
Ally Rom Colthoff is a Toronto-based artist and writer. She created the fantasy comic series Chirault, which can be found here, and is now working on the webcomic Wychwood.