02 April 2012

Long Days at Work: Slow Cooker Marinara

I've been more label conscious lately, and as much as I'm pro the occasional easy meal, I'm more and more aware of the unpronouncables on almost every, even seemingly innocent, packaged food. 

I mean, we all know that Velveeta cannot be doing great things for you.   And condensed cream-of-x soups.  But look at Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread.  Or a jar of simple jarred spaghetti sauce.  Multiple ingredients that didn't exist 100 years ago, much less 1000. 

I don't want to be an alarmist, but what I'd like to do is say that we don't know what any of that stuff might be doing to us, so let's try to avoid.  And when I say avoid, I don't mean avoid like yet another germ in the winter of 2012 (we've had stomach bug 1.5 times, flu, strep and probable pneumonia this year).  I mean avoid like stepping in muddy puddles or throwing away plastic rings off of coke cans without cutting them up first. 
Just avoid it when possible, but don't lose sleep or make other people's lives miserable in the process.

All that to say:  I've been looking for a low key pasta sauce that could substitute on those long days at work when I need to boil up a pound of angel hair and call it a night.  If you don't have those nights, then you have it all more under control than I do - or maybe you just live a charmed life. 

A couple versions of this have been floating around Pinterest.  My friend Jessie tried one and remarked that it needed something more.  So, I drew from a few sources and amped them up a bit. 

Paul declared that it doesn't taste so much like jarred spaghetti sauce - but rather like "real marinara - you know - like in a restaurant." 

I'll take that.

So, for posterity and for next time when I cannot remember exactly what I did: 

  • 56 ounces crushed tomatoes (2 28 oz cans or 1/2 giant Sam's can.  I happened to need crushed tomatoes for other recipes this week, so I just got out my scale, measured out 1/4 of the giant can for one thing, 1/4 for another, and 1/2 for the crock pot)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 - 1 head garlic, minced  
  • 1 can tomato paste 
  • 3 bay leaves, whole, dried
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar (Sugar!  But if you don't do it, the tomatoes will be too acidic - and really for the 12 or so servings you're getting out of this, 1 T isn't a deal breaker)
  • 1 Tablespoon Parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Throw it all in a crock pot.  Yes.  I said it.  Throw it in.  Throw it.  Throw it.  Stir until tomato paste seems incorporated.  Cook on low 6-12 hours.

Serve over pasta of choice.

My estimation is that this has about 60% of the sugar that a jar of regular ol' spaghetti sauce has and exactly no fat, unlike most jarred sauces which add oil for flavor  - not that a little fat will kill ya, but wouldn't you rather have it in say...cheese?

Speaking of, Parmesan cheese was not unwelcome piled on top.

We had this and fresh spinach with a little dab'll do ya dressing tonight for dinner.

Paul, Ada Bee, Collins and I gobbled up.  Eason prefers the sweetness brought on by high fructose corn syrup, but he cleaned his plate.  I doubt the promised result of 1/3 of a hershey bar had anything to do with it.  

I have the same amount we ate left over and will freeze in a gallon size bag.

Have I told you lately that I'm thankful for a husband who is happy with a meatless meal. Almost as happy as a meatful meal.

This will be our new marinara, I imagine.  For pizza, all red sauced pasta, as a base for meat sauce and the perfect dip for cheesy focaccia. 

Who needs Velveeta when you've got that jazz?

(Well, me, but only much less often!)  


1 comment:

  1. AL, I made this on Saturday. Because, well, 68 degree weather demands that we all leap into action making fall comfort food, right? ;) It'll definitely be our new "go-to" marinara too. Thanks for sharing!

    -Rebecca Vance