Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Magnificent Marinara

Hi friends! I can't believe I haven't posted since Sunday. As soon as I got home from my girls' trip in Cincy on Sunday, my real estate life exploded and I have been busy actually working ever since! Imagine that! I realized just today that I never posted about my second try at making my homeade marinara after this catastrophe. The second try was much better! Instead of reading a magazine and drinking coffee, I started out with a glass of wine. We have had this bottle of blackberry wine in our fridge since June of 08' for absolutely no reason other than we never drink wine. I also turned on some music to add ambience to the kitchen. I listened to the hubby's iPod (plugged into the speakers) and played "Mob Hits" which is a CD with old Italian-ish music being sang by people like Dean Martin. I figured I needed to feel some relaxation before tackling the marinara again. I will give you the whole recipe for my marinara at the end of this post. It is famous at my house and will win you many accolades. Or indigestion. Not really. Honestly, this is one of the only things that I can make that both of my children and my husband will clear their plates and ask for seconds and even thirds!!! In case you were wondering, this is what onions and garlic are supposed to look like when they are being sauteed in olive oil. This is what they like when you keep the heat on medium and watch them, rather than ignoring them at high heat until you practically burn the house down.

I love the aesthetic aspect of cooking. I like to chop my own veggies instead of using a chopper because I like the feeling the knife makes when it cuts through the veggies. Wow, I am truly easily amused. Another important aesthetic is the smell. When you add the celery and carrots to the onions and garlic, the smell that will invade your house will make your mouth water. It smells absolutely delicious. I mean it is so good it is ridiculous. The strong smell will also keep vampires away for about a week.

I believe in making things from scratch, but I also believe in saving a buck. Don't worry about buying fancy organic canned tomatoes. I stick with the Kroger Value tomatoes. They're cheap and they're tomatoes for God's sake.

Pour the tomatoes into the garlic, onion, celery, and carrots. I love the sound it makes when you pour it into the hot pan.

You also have to add bay leaves. Avery thought it was odd that I was adding leaves to our sauce. I told her to trust me.

No recipe is complete until the girl in the pink poodle pajamas has a tasting. This time she approved.

As the marinara was simmering, I started boiling my pasta. I like to buy whole grain pasta. We have used this marinara recipe in many ways with different types of pasta, but we have found that we prefer it with penne. My husband (who has been to Italy twice) says that the marinara with penne reminds him exactly of something he had in Italy! That has to be good!

Pink poodle approved!

Presentation is important. I served our penne and marinara and salad family style. I used mixed spring greens with kalamata olives and parmesan cheese and tossed it with Green Goddess dressing.
Now for PROOF that this recipe is amazing. Look at my little one's face! You know it has to be good if she got into it that much!

Now for the recipe! Please take the time to make won't regret it. I always double this recipe so I can freeze some of the marinara to use with other recipes.
Lindsay's Magnificent Marinara
taken from pg. 59 of Giada de Laurentiis's Everyday Italian
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. black pepper, plus more to taste
2 (32 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves
In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard bay leaves. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
Okay, I never said I created the recipe! It is from Giada's book. For a minute I thought about not telling you it was from Giada's book, but I used to be a teacher and plagiarism is just not cool. Anyway, please make this recipe. You will feel Italian. You can pretend you are Giada and that you have a husband who designs clothing for Anthropologie. (I know lots of things about Giada's life). My cousin thinks she looks like a bobblehead, but that is a different story.
Do you have a recipe you swear by? Tell me about it!!!