There are some things that just can’t be eaten without marinara. They just aren’t satisfying without the addition of its slightly sweet, robust flavor. Mozzarella sticks, toasted ravioli and pizza quesadillas immediately come to mind. Toss it with some cooked pasta and you have an easy entree. However, not all marinara is made the same and those that are truly delicious and flavorful are often rather pricey, even on sale or in bulk. At one point, to save some extra money in my grocery budget, I tried not buying it, but tomato sauce and pasta sauce were poor substitutions. So I set about finding a recipe that I could make at home for minimal cost. Now, let me introduce you to my homemade marinara that will tantalize your taste buds while leaving your wallet pleasantly plump! The entire recipe, which made 3 batches for our family of 6, cost about $3-4 to make and used things I always keep stocked in my pantry. Oh, and last but not least: it cooks in your crock pot while you sleep. You just set it and forget it. Easy, right?
Homemade Marinara Sauce
- 2 cans of crushed tomatoes, 28 oz ea
- 1 can tomato paste, 6 0z
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp brown sugar*
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
- salt and pepper, to taste
*I make my own brown sugar. To make your own brown sugar simply combine 1 cup granulated sugar with 1 1/2 tbsp molasses and stir until evenly mixed. I give mine a quick spin in my food processor.
- Add all ingredients to your crockpot and stir well.
- Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or overnight. If your crockpot is not airtight or notoriously dries things out, you may want to add more water as a precaution.
- Remove the lid, stir well. Remove the bay leaves, and enjoy! Also, do not be alarmed when your sauce is done if it’s bright red color has become darker and browner. You want this. It lets your know that it’s cooked and that the sugars in the sauce have caramelized.
Making your own marinara sauce is that easy! You can enjoy immediately over your favorite pasta, as a dipping sauce, or store for later use. I canned two jars, and froze the rest. To unfreeze, put it in the refrigerator the night before you intend to use it. Then, when it’s defrosted, just heat and eat.