Now-and-Later Marinara (Simple Tomato Sauce)

A few years ago, I would watch Giada de Laurentiis faithfully. When I became scathed that her show’s time changed, I bought a Tivo. In general, her recipes are hit or miss (which, I attribute to using the same ingredients that she uses), but the best one ever: her Simple Tomato Sauce. It is absolutely to die for, and I turn up my nose at all others. It is simple, unbelievably tasty, and gets better with time. For me and my family, and I always make a “now and later” batch.

There are three basic steps:

1. Prep ingredients
2. Brown veggies
3. Simmer

Really. It is that simple, but tastes complex. My photos show my OCD side, as I purchased a 13-quart dutch oven so I could make obsessively-large batches, then pressure can them to put away for later. Unfortunately, once I know that the sauce is made, it only lasts a week…after all the work of canning it, I mean. The sauce does freeze beautfully, though, and only requires a quick overnight thaw in the refrigerator.

Giada’s Simple Tomato Sauce (as taken from, with my changes)

3-4 Tablespoons EVOO
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup red wine (optional); I use de-alcholized wine (clickety here for information about cooking with wine, and substitutions)
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried basil

In a large casserole pot or Dutch over, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Sauté until all the vegetables are browned, about 10 minutes. Add wine or substitute (if using) Add tomatoes, bay leaves, garlic powder, and dried basil and simmer uncovered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and taste for additional seasoning.

Add 1/2 the tomato sauce into a blender. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.

If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags or Mason jars. This will freeze up to 6 months.

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