Friday, November 9, 2012

Quick and Easy, Healthy Marinara Sauce

When we say spaghetti at our house, we mean meat sauce. That's what spaghetti meant to my family when I was growing up and that's what it means when my kids ask for spaghetti. My mom was a pretty good cook, but there were a few dishes she really made well. One of them was meat sauce. She simmered it all afternoon and made enough to freeze so that we could have it again. I've tinkered around with her original method over the years, but it's still pretty close to what she made and what her mother made.

All that being said, over the years I've added different sauces to my cooking rotation (here's one). Lately, I've been making a super healthy marinara sauce. I got my inspiration from Giada on the Food Network, but have tweaked it just a little but, like I almost always do. For one thing, since it's just me and the hub around the house most of the time these days, I only make enough sauce to feed the 2 of us. It's a quick and easy sauce and full of veggies, so you can feel very virtuous when wolfing down your pasta. I found some delicious chicken meatballs by Sabatini at my local big box store, and often add 2 or 3 per person. Couldn't be easier! Whether you are vegetarian, trying to cook a little healthier of just need something good and quick to get on the table, you are going to love this recipe, I promise! If you are serving more than two, just double it. (This picture shows the sauce with the chicken meatballs added, but it's super good without them, too.)
Vegetarian Marinara Sauce with Chicken Meatballs
Vegetarian Marinara Sauce
2 T. olive oil
1 small onion
2 - 3 garlic cloves
4 baby carrots or 1 regular carrot
1 stalk celery
1  14.5 oz. can organic diced tomatoes
1/4 c. dry red wine
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
a pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried basil or 1 T. minced fresh basil
1/4 tsp. sugar
Put the onion, garlic, carrots and celery into a mini food chopper and pulse until they are of uniform size and well chopped. If you don't have a mini food chopper, chop them all together until they are finely diced. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed, deep skillet over low heat. Add the veggies and saute' them until they are soft and fragrant. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil and sugar. Bring the sauce to a boil. Cover the skillet, turn the heat down to low and cook for 30 minutes. Serve over your favorite pasta. If you are adding meatballs, simmer them for at least 20 minutes along with the sauce. This is a thick and chunky marinara, so stir it often and keep the heat low. Serves 2.

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