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Quick Marinara Sauce

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Quick Marinara

Ever since Cross Country came into our lives earlier this fall, the same scene plays out at our house nearly every afternoon.  Two sweaty runners stumble through the door around 5:30 and they’re absolutely ravenous and a little on the grumpy side and they cannot possibly wait until dinner is served.  There are no pleasantries such as “hello mom, you’re looking pretty today” only “WHEN’S DINNER I’M STARVING WHAT ARE WE HAVING?!?”  And they’re reaching for Ho-Ho’s and Ding Dong’s and Cheeze-Its and all other manner of calories available for immediate consumption.  It’s like a feeding frenzy you’ve not seen before.  Or maybe you have.  Maybe I’m just a newbie because I’ve never had rapidly growing teenagers who run five miles for fun after school every da’gum day.It’s a teaching moment for me I guess.

And even though it was 74 degrees yesterday and I personally could’ve gone for a big fat cheeseburger off the grill, the punks wanted pasta, so that’s what I made ‘em.  Because that’s the sort of self-sacrificing devoted mom I am.

Yep, that’s me.

This recipe is simple, quick, and easy, and I always pull out it out when canned tomatoes go on sale.  I like to use it in lasagna, or with meatballs, or in my favorite ravioli recipe (which is how we had it last night).  You’ll get about six cups of sauce out of this batch – I used two cups for the ravioli (a dish I’ll share another time), and I froze the rest in two-cup portions for a not-so-later date.

Enjoy!!

QUICK MARINARA SAUCE
Makes 1 ½ quarts (6 cups)
Source: Giada’s Family Dinners, by Giada De Laurentiis.  Copyright 2006.  Page 144.

2 – 28 oz. cans whole tomatoes in juice (I used the Dei Fratelli sale tomatoes)
1 bunch fresh basil, stemmed
½ c. good quality olive oil
2 small onions, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. sugar
1 Parmesan rind (if you can find it; ask the ladies in the cheese department if they have some stashed away – optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a blender, puree the tomatoes with their juice and the basil until almost smooth.  Set the tomato puree aside.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and sauté until very tender, about 12 minutes.  Stir in the tomato puree, oregano, sugar and optional Parmesan rind.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Decrease the heat to medium and continue simmering until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes (I usually let mine go about an hour).  Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.  Discard Parmesan rind.

The sauce can be made 1 day ahead.  If storing for future use, cool, then cover and refrigerate or freeze.

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Leah Damron is an avid home cook who believes in using the freshest ingredients available, and she challenges herself weekly to create meals out of (mostly!) sale items. If Sendik's ever gave a title for "Biggest Fan", she believes she would win, hands down. Leah lives in greater Milwaukee with her husband, three children, and her big black lab, Daisy."

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