Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The best marinara sauce

So, I love watching the Food Network. Because I watch it so much, I've gotten a few tips and ideas for cooking. One of the best is kosher salt. For anyone who has no clue that salt does come in something other than a shaker, then read this.

All the fancy cooks use kosher salt. I, honestly, thought it had something to do with Jewish custom. I suppose I thought it had been prayed over or something. Well, I found out that there are various salts. And kosher is fabulous! I found it on the bottom shelf of my local grocery store--you know where all the spices and salt are found. It comes in a box and the grains are too large to put in a salt shaker. I have my baby bowl (the bowl my mom used to feed me as a baby) and put it in there. I just use my fingers to pinch some and put in whatever.

It's not as salty as table salt and adds flavor without it being salty. The only thing that it doesn't taste good with is popcorn--the salt is too large.

Once I began using kosher salt, I made up with marinara sauce after watching a lot of Emeril, Rachel Ray, Paula, Giada, etc.

You need:

Stewed tomatoes
Crushed tomatoes
herbs such as oregano, thyme, savory, basil, rosemary, parsley
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Do this:

Dice onion and garlic (I use 1 whole onion and about 4-5 cloves of garlic--not that jar stuff--eww) and saute about 5 minutes in extra virgin olive oil. I typically will saute the onion first until it is translucent and then add the garlic for about a minute. I tend to burn garlic and if you do burn it--then toss everything and start over. Seriously, burned garlic is just horrible.

After I add the garlic, I add either one can of stewed/diced tomatoes and 1 can of crushed tomatoes or 2 cans of crushed tomatoes. I always use crushed tomatoes because I like the texture better.

I then add the herbs. I use whatever I have that sounds like it would be good in Italian food. They have one called Italian seasoning that contains several different herbs. I use that along with my list above. How much to add is a guess. I would start with 1/2 teaspoon each and then add more as you like. I adore thyme and savory, so I tend to add more of these. I may also sometimes use paprika and cayenne. Chili powder is yummy too--add about 1 teaspoon so it's not too chili tasting. Be careful with the red pepper flakes--these are HOT! I typically use my hand to measure (yeah, I'm a Rachel Ray fan) and I use about 1-2 shakes for the red pepper flakes.

Once you add the herbs (salt and pepper to taste), then let it simmer about 10-15 min. This is great for spaghetti, lasagna, pasta. Cook penne pasta or any large pasta with browned Italian sausage and this sauce--yummy!

I will often make a meat sauce. Once I cook the onion and garlic, I add ground beef or ground turkey (if you use turkey, add one can of beef broth and cook down prior to adding tomatoes--this makes it taste meatier). After it browns, I add the rest of the ingredients.

Try making this meat sauce and making an Italian sandwich. Take Italian bread, slice it lengthwise, scoop out some of the bread, put the prepared meat sauce in the middle, add cheese (mozzarella or provolone) and then toast in the oven, 350 degrees until the cheese melts and starts to turn brown.

You can make this sauce and freeze it for later as well.

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