Technically there is nothing wrong with purchasing marinara sauce in a can or jar. I know that many people have a favorite brand and like the consistency of flavor and obviously they appreciate the convenience but it’s never really done it for me. Even when I wasn’t a very good cook I would still doctor up the sauce I bought, maybe it was because I was too cheap to buy the “gourmet” stuff but I think it’s because there is something about homemade marinara sauce that really makes a difference.
I make twice as much as the recipe listed below and it makes a lot of sauce, I use it for what I need and freeze the rest in specific amounts based on what I will be using it for. Since I plan my menu so far in advance I know exactly how many times in the coming month and it what quantity I will need it, that way I only have to go through this process every 4- 6 weeks. You will notice that this is a vegetarian sauce; if I want to add ground meat to the sauce for spaghetti for example I will add that when I am reheating the sauce.
In a large stock pot add the oil and diced onions, cook on medium heat until translucent. Add the diced carrots, zucchini and garlic cooking until the vegetables begin to soften. Stir in the tomato paste and dried herbs mixing to incorporate and letting the mixture cook. Add the remaining canned tomatoes, stir to incorporate and allow the entire mixture to simmer for 30 minutes, stir from time to time making sure that nothing sticks to the bottom. Take the sauce off the heat and allow it to cool slightly before blending. I like to use an immersion blender because it really makes less of a mess but you could use a blender instead. I don’t suggest using a food processer because they really aren’t designed for large amounts of liquid, in other words it will leak and be a huge mess, I know I have done it before. Depending on the amount of texture you are looking for you can either blend it until smooth and consistent or you can focus on the large chunks of tomato and leave more chunks in your sauce. Add the fresh herbs at the very end; I like to see the flecks in the sauce if you have picky eaters you may want to put them in before blending.
Once completely cooled put in air tight freezer safe containers or bags, make sure to match the labels and quantities to your needs. If you aren’t sure I would put 1-1 ½ cups of sauce per person in your household in each bag, this should be enough for spaghetti, chicken Parmesan, stuffed shells or baked ziti. You will need roughly twice that much for lasagna but you could simply thaw two bags of sauce when you need it.
Much Love, Aislinn and Emily