All good cooks should know how to make a basic marinara sauce that can be used for most recipes, that calls for a tomato base. This is one that I learned several years ago from an Italian friend who came to Canada to study at the same University as I. One day we just happened to be talking about cultural cooking methods; and she said that she was fascinated by how people in North America ate jarred tomato sauce; when it was easier and cheaper to make a fresh one at home. So obviously, to make a long story short, I asked her for a classic marinara recipe and any other secrets she could let loose. This recipe is the one that she gave to me, and the the grated carrot. Since tomatoes are naturally acidic she balanced it out using the sweetness from a carrot. Although classic marinara's don't have a grated vegetable in them she said that her father used it and it tasted great, so naturally she never stopped. Since I learned to make this I have never stopped using this recipe.

Makes 3-1/2 cups

  • 2 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely minced
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • coarse salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 can of Italian whole peeled tomatoes (796ml/28 fl oz.)
  • 1/4 cup water or stock
  • 1 tsp tomato paste (can add 1 tsp more if you want the sauce more thick)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil (use fresh if you have it)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch of hot pepper flakes (optional - if you like it a bit spicy)

Preheat a deep skillet on medium heat, drizzle in 2 tbsp of olive oil and add in the minced onion, grated carrot, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and saute for 2 minutes.

Add in the can of whole tomatoes and break up the tomatoes using your wooden spoon. Pour in the 1/4 cup of water or stock and add in the tsp of tomato paste. Sprinkle in the dried basil and oregano. Simmer the sauce for about 10-12 minutes until slightly thickened. The sauce is now ready to use.

Cooks note: If you prefer a basic tomato sauce, omit the grated carrot and add in a teaspoon of sugar instead.

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