Spaghetti is one of my favorite dishes. Its my daughter's all time favorite too (I guess she takes after mommy). In fact, any pasta is a favorite of ours. However, spaghetti is number one. I love using Trader Joe's Tomato & Basil Marinara sauce whenever a recipe calls for prepared marinara sauce. It tastes fresh and not from a jar. But I've always secretly wished that I could make tomato/marinara sauce from scratch the way I see the Italians do it on TV. They all had secret recipes that their "mama" taught them.
While searching for new recipes to try out, I came across a recipe for Vodka Sauce that included a tomato sauce recipe from Smells Like Home. It looked pretty easy and I figured I should try it out tonight since its a vegetarian sauce that we can eat for Lenten Friday tomorrow. It came out pretty tasty. Almost like Trader Joe's sauce, but probably a lot healthier because it doesn't have the preservatives. I added more basil to the sauce because I just love the flavor of basil. This is a great recipe to double up and freeze for later use whenever we have a craving for spaghetti. Since this recipe isn't from my "mama," maybe my daughter can take pride that its from her mama.
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 (32 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
6-10 basil leaves
2 dried bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1) In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrot, then season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour or until thick.
2) Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning. If sauce tastes too acidic, add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, to balance the flavor. Pour hot tomato sauce in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Sauce will freeze well for up to 6 months.