Whether you call it spaghetti sauce, pasta sauce, tomato sauce, or marinara, it is a staple in the kitchen. With basics that you probably have in your pantry, it takes just 30 minutes to make. Use it for dinner, then freeze leftover sauce for an even faster dinner in the future. Try it with Turkey Meatballs or to top Quick Chicken Cutlets topped with Parmesan cheese for easy Chicken Parmesan.
Power to the Pantry
Running out of my stash of frozen roasted tomato marinara, I grabbed a few things from my pantry shelves and came up with this quick pasta sauce. It came out so good I couldn’t wait to share it with you.
With a can of crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, onions, garlic plus dried herbs and spices you can make this in about 30 minutes. Use it right away with pasta, shrimp, chicken, or fish. And of course, it’s great with either turkey or beef meatballs. Because Leftovers freeze well, make a double batch for a quick meal on a busy night.
Buy Organic to Reduce Pesticides
When you purchase canned tomatoes and sauce, be sure to buy organic. According to Rodale News, the USDA has detected 35 different pesticide residues on fresh tomatoes. These are the same tomatoes that go into tomato products like canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, ketchup and salsa. The most common was 2-chloroethyl linoleate, linked to potential nerve and liver damage.
One little extra that gives this sauce great flavor is anise seed. The lightly sweet licorice flavor offers a nice edge, something different. You can use fennel seed instead, but if you like that flavor, try anise seed.
Native to the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean, anise is in the same family as dill, caraway and cumin. While it has a similar flavor to fennel, they are two entirely different plants.
Whole spices, freshly ground just before using, provide an amazing burst of flavor, different than the pre-ground forms. An added benefit, whole spices stay fresher, longer in your pantry.
Here I’ve used whole anise seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle by hand, then tossed into the pot. Another way to grind whole spices, use an inexpensive electric spice and coffee grinder reserved for spices.
30 Minute Pasta Sauce
Yield: about 5 cups ( 1 liter+)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped (minced)
- 1 tablespoon dried basil or Italian herb blend
- 2 teaspoons whole anise seed (or fennel seed), ground before cooking
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper (more or less to your heat preferences)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 can (28 ounce) crushed tomatoes
- 1 can (15 ounce) tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
- Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium low heat and add onion. Cook until onion is soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the basil, ground anise seed, black pepper, red pepper, salt, tomatoes and sauce, and wine if using. Cover and simmer sauce for 20 minutes until flavors are blended. For a smoother sauce, puree briefly in blender.
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