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In case you haven’t noticed, I’m all about pasta. This means I love the more complex pasta dishes, all the way down to the most simplistic. And what is more simplistic or basic than good ol’ spaghetti, which of course needs a basic marinara sauce. This is a staple for any pasta lover, so you can build upon it if desired, adding meat or mushrooms, extra garlic or basil, or anything your heart desires.The sauce starts out with a mirepoix, which is a fun and fancy French term which means the combination of onion, celery, and carrot. I add some wine to this sauce because it makes the sauce richer, without adding any wine flavor.

Marinara is about more than just spaghetti. It’s a great dipping sauce for mozzarella sticks, zucchini sticks, or calamari. It’s a great accompaniment for Italian burgers, which I’ll be posting next. Another fun meal is eggs poached in marinara sauce, which is served over a nice, crusty slice of bread.This recipe doubles or even triples really well, if you have a large enough pot, then freeze it in large freezer bags and you’ll always have homemade marinara sauce on hand. And homemade food always tastes that much better than store bought!

Marinara Sauce

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
⅓ cup dry red wine
2 dried bay leaves

In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and ½ teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, wine, and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 70 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste. For a smoother sauce, use an immersion blender to puree the sauce to the desired consistency. Alternatively, a blender can be used, working the sauce in small batches (hot liquids expand and can blast the blender lid off). Serve immediately, or cool, then cover and refrigerate for a day, rewarming over medium heat before serving.

Source: Adapted from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis