Finally, you guys can benefit from B’s profession! It’s been a while since I’ve featured a recipe that wasn’t a baked good or other sweet type item from my personal arsenal.
Growing up in New Jersey, I of course loved Italian food. This includes tomato sauce, aka “marinara sauce.” I’m sure there’s some distinction about what makes it a “marinara,” but if it’s red and goes on pasta, I like it.
Unfortunately, I have been plagued by heartburn from the minute I turned 25. This means if I have something with tomatoes, it is sometimes too acidic and gives me the dreaded heartburn. I started avoiding regular red sauces and buying vodka sauce. That is, until B made me this great marinara. It’s nicer on the waistline and is sooo delicious! The addition of carrots makes the sauce sweeter and less acidic. Unlike many red sauces, there is no white sugar added – just the natural sweetness of the carrots.
Big Daddy’s Carrot Marinara Sauce (serves approximately 16-18, depending on cook time and ingredients)
- 2 large carrots (approximately- use to taste)
- 1 large yellow or white onion
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced (approximately – use to taste)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 Tbsp thyme
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (this packs a punch, so less if you don’t like some kick)
- 3 (14.5 oz ea) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes (we used Hunt’s – you could also use fire roasted for a smokier flavor)
- 1 1/2 cups red wine (cabernet sauvignon or burgundy – a type you like, but a cheap version)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Basil to taste (preferably fresh)
You will also need large, freezer-friendly containers for the sauce (it makes about 16-18 half cup servings) and an immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender (they’re super useful if you like making soup!) you can still do this with a normal blender. You also need a large pot to cook in on a stovetop, and utensils for stirring and scooping.
Heat the oil in a large pot on medium high heat.
Peel and chop the carrots and onion. Because you will be blending them later, they do not have to be small or pretty. You want about quarter-sized pieces, especially for the carrots, so they will cook evenly and quickly.
Sauté the carrots and onions for about 3-4 minutes, until they start to become translucent. Then add the garlic and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Add the thyme, oregano, and red pepper flakes, stirring to distribute. Your kitchen will smell awesome!
Add the cans of tomatoes and the red wine. Use the spoon to break apart the tomatoes a bit, which will help release their moisture.
Let it come to a boil, and then reduce heat to let it simmer. Simmer for at least 15 minutes to allow the carrots, tomatoes, and onions to cook down. Cooking will take between 15-30 minutes. The carrots and onions will be soft enough to blend when it is ready.
When it has cooked down enough, you are ready to blend. An immersion blender will make this task much easier! It goes straight into the pot and blends while you cook. If using an immersion blender, blend until smooth, checking occasionally with a spoon to make sure no pieces remain.
No immersion blender? You can CAREFULLY transfer the sauce in smaller batches to a regular blender. You may have to let it cool a bit beforehand to avoid shocking your blender and possibly causing it to shatter or break. Check your blender manual if you aren’t sure what temperatures it can take. Or- use a 20% off coupon to Bed Bath & Beyond and just pick up an awesome immersion blender!
When smooth, add the basil (if you can use fresh, chiffonade it) and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to containers for storage- it will keep for a week or two in the fridge but can freeze as well. I use my large container to freeze and do a smaller one for the fridge. When freezing, fill the container as much as you can- air is the enemy of freezing foods!
I love this sauce with any type of pasta. It can stand up to a hearty whole wheat penne, but I have been eating it with spaghetti squash and turkey meatballs!
It can also be used as a dipping sauce (for skinnytaste baked zucchini sticks, yum!) or for toasted bread- throw a blob of goat cheese in there and bake it until melty. Delicious!
This is also not a horrible sauce, nutrition wise. My version is about 96 calories – mostly due to oil and wine. You can limit these slightly if you are trying to save calories. Of course, if you want to know the correct calorie count you should calculate it based on your exact ingredients. One serving is typically 1/2 cup – definitely enough for a full serving of pasta or a cup of spaghetti squash.
How do you guys typically use marinara sauce? Would you be open to making your own, and putting carrot in it? Let me know if you plan to try it, and how you use it! What’s your favorite type of pasta sauce?