Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Pasta Sauce – Marinara

print recipe card posted in Main Dishes, Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

This is a very basic (and quick!) tomato sauce that takes very little time to cook and can be made ahead of time and frozen. It can be used with any pasta dish or in lasagna.

You will need the following ingredients to make this Marinara Sauce recipe:

Be sure to get both the onion and garlic chopped before you turn on the stove.

You’ll need about 1 cup of finely chopped onions for this recipe. Two small or one medium onion should do the trick.

Peel and mince 4 cloves of garlic. That’s a lot of garlic, but it does get cooked, so it’s not going to be too strong.

Fresh basil is essential for this recipe. Nowadays, most grocery store carry fresh basil year-round. You can wash it the same way you wash lettuce. Pull the leaves off the stem and throw the stems away.

Put the basil and the canned tomatoes, with their juice, in a blender and puree everything until almost smooth. Set the tomato-basil puree aside.

(As I filled the blender I thought, YIKES, this is way too full! With my hand pressed firmly on the lid of the blender I pressed the puree button. I was very lucky that my kitchen did not end up covered in tomato sauce. Next time I would puree this mixture in two batches!)

Heat ½ cup of olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.

That does sound like a ton of oil, but believe me it works. It gives the sauce a full, rich flavor.

Add the onions and garlic and cook until very tender, about 12 minutes.

The onions should not get browned. This is what they should look like after 12 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and basil that you pureed in the blender and 1 teaspoon of oregano plus 1 teaspoon of sugar. (Don’t skip the sugar. It helps balance the acid in the tomatoes.)

Bring the sauce to a simmer over a medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and continue simmering until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally. This will take about 10 minutes.

Give the sauce a taste. You may need to add about ½ -1 teaspoon of salt and several grinds of fresh pepper.

The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. If you are storing it for future use, cool the sauce, then cover and refrigerate it. Gently re-heat sauce over medium heat before using it.

If you are going to be freezing this sauce, use small containers that would be enough for 1-2 serving.

Be sure to spray your plastic containers with cooking spray first so they don’t get stained by the tomato sauce.

(For more basic pasta sauce recipes, be sure to check out my Tomato Sauce Video or my Turkey Sausage Sauce photo-tutorial.)

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Turkey Sausage Sauce

Enjoy!

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Pasta: Dry, Fresh or Frozen?

posted in Pasta, Rice and Grains by Lisa Freeman

cooking pasta

Before you choose the shape and size of pasta you want to cook, you will need to decide if you are going to buy either dry, fresh or frozen pasta.

Dry Pasta

Dry pasta is the most readily available type and can be found in boxes or bags on the grocery store shelf. It can be stored for up to a year. Some folks think dry pasta is a supermarket invention, but it has actually been preserved and sold this way in Italy for centuries. It takes longer to cook dry pasta (usually 10-12 minutes) than it does to cook fresh pasta. There are many different brands of dry pasta on supermarket shelves, as well as plenty of gourmet dry pastas, in all kinds of shapes and colors.

Fresh Pasta

Fresh pasta is found in the refrigerator section of the grocery store. It can also be found in many specialty shops, nestled in a protective layer of semolina flour. Fresh pasta is in a semi-dry state, but still considered fresh. In many supermarkets, it is common to see fresh pasta in a clear plastic container. Fresh pasta cooks quickly — it usually takes 4-6 minutes to get it al dente. If unopened, a package of fresh pasta can typically be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks, or in the freezer for a month. (Be sure to check the “sell by” date before buying fresh pasta.) Keep in mind that if frozen, it will require a few extra minutes of cooking.

Frozen Pasta

Frozen pasta has been flash-frozen to lock in the flavor. Gourmet shops usually sell it in small cartons offering exotic flavors like lobster ravioli. But these days you can also find frozen pasta at the supermarket. Bagged frozen pasta meals require about 10 minutes of cooking. Some include chicken or meat, veggies and a sauce, which can make a full-fledged meal in minutes.

No matter which pasta you end up going with, the golden rule is not to overcook it. Fresh pasta turns into a mushy mess when overdone; dry pasta gets gummy if it is undercooked — so be sure to watch your pasta as it boils and follow the directions on the package. Before draining the boiling water, taste your pasta to make sure it is tender and properly cooked.

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Be sure to check out startcooking.com’s pasta roundup for some great tips and recipes!

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Mother’s Day Recipes Anyone Can Cook

posted in Kitchen Basics, Recipes by Kathy Maister

Mother’s Day is traditionally one of the busiest days of the year at restaurants. Why not forget the restaurants this Mother’s Day and try whipping up some home-cooked treats.

Breakfast:

Chocolate chip pancakes are the perfect start to the day. If starting from scratch is a bit daunting, you can always try making pancakes from box mix!

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Pop some bacon (video) in the microwave, pour some orange juice and you’ve got a meal fit for a queen!

Lunch:

Salads quickly become a filling and satisfying meal by adding a bit of protein to the salad. Both kids and adults love Taco Salad!

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Grilled Chicken is a perfect addition to a Caesar Salad.

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You can buy pre-washed lettuce or wash your own lettuce.

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If you want to really impress her, make your own Salad Dressing!

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Dinner:

Whip up some Pan-Fried Scallops in less than 5 minutes.

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Think of how good these would be with steamed asparagus and some rice. Or try steaming salmon in the microwave in the morning so that after a day of fun, dinner will be all ready to just pull out of the refrigerator!

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Dessert:

You can’t go wrong with simple, fresh, Apple Crisp. Plus, it’ll make the house smell fantastic.

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Frozen Berries with White Chocolate takes minutes to prepare. Just be sure to freeze the small berries ahead of time

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Tip: Don’t forget to make the table look special for mother’s special day!

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