Marinara

We love Italian food.   If I thought that we could get away with eating it 4 time a week, we probably would.  I used to buy marinara.  One jar for $2 didn’t seem like a bad buy.  But….when you use a jar and a half when making Chicken Parmesan (our favorite meal next to Pizza) you start to wonder if there if making it yourself is better in the long run.   Once I started making it at home, we haven’t gone back to using the store bought kind.   It doesn’t take as long as you might think.   If you have an hour, you can make this super simple marinara.

This recipe was found when Virginia is for Hunter Gathers did a guest post on Nom Nom Paleo.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ¼ cups white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes in water (I recommend draining the water or else the sauce is super watery)
  • ⅛ teaspoon celery seed (original recipe called for celery salt, but I don’t have that and have always used the celery seed)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon coconut aminos (can be found at Whole Foods or Central Market)
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 pinches freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil cut in chiffonade, divided (If you don’t have fresh basil, dried basil works too.  When I use dried basil I tend to add a bit more)

 

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet (I use a deep sided skillet so I only have to use one pan for this) over medium-low heat.  Add in your onions.  I like to caramelize the onions a bit to add some sweetness to the sauce.  If you find that the onions are starting to burn instead of caramelize, add a bit more olive oil.  If you don’t want to caramelize the onions, cook them until they are translucent.

Cooking the onions

Cooking the onions

 

While the onions are cooking, you can prepare the garlic.  The easy was to do it is if you have a garlic press.  I don’t have one, so I cut it by hand.   When you add in the garlic, cook it for about 3 more minutes.

Add in the garlic

Add in the garlic

 

Once the garlic has cooked with the onions, you can add the rest of the ingredients.  (If using fresh basil, put half of it in at this point) If you don’t have a deep sided skillet, you can use a large sauce pot.

Ingredients in the deep sided skillet

Ingredients in the deep sided skillet

Bring the mixture to a simmer.IMG_2391

Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour stirring occasionally.  If the sauce starts sticking to the bottom of the pan, turn down the heat.  Remove the bay leaf and add the rest of the fresh basil if using.

The sauce could now be used if you like a chunky sauce.  I don’t.  So I put it in the blender.

Ready to be blended

Ready to be blended

Almost there!

Almost there!

 

Blend it until you get the desired consistency.  I like my sauce really smooth.  So I will blend it a bit more.

Once you have the consistency you like, you can eat it or store it!

 

IMG_2396

This sauce is so tasty!  I have had several people tell me that they can’t believe that it is homemade.  I am so grateful that I found this recipe.  It has become a staple in our house.   Hopefully it will become one in yours too!

Spaghetti and Butternut Squash Casserole

While working in triage….ok, so maybe I wasn’t working…I was daydreaming about what new things to make and this recipe just popped into my head.  Right now I am going through an obsession with squash.  It’s tasty and super low in calories….so why not?  And I love tomato sauce….so why not mix everything together?

Ingredients:

  • 1 cooked spaghetti squash
  • 1/4 of butternut squash shredded
  • 5c tomato sauce (I used this recipe from Nom Nom Paleo…one recipe made 5c after blending)
  • 2 chicken breasts diced and cooked
  • 1c diced red bell pepper
  • 1c chopped spinch
  • 1/2c chopped mushrooms (since I don’t really like mushrooms, we diced them up super fine)

 

First you need to cook your spaghetti squash.   Cut it in half and bake it rind side up at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  You will know it’s ready when you can easily scrap out the strands.

While the squash is cooking, you can start making the tomato sauce.  I followed it exactly like the recipe on Nom Nom Paleo.   It does come out chunky like she said, so I blended it until it was a smoother consistency.   I can not say enough great things about this recipe.  I could not stop eating it with a spoon.  So good!

When the sauce was simmering, I prepared the rest of the ingredients.   I marinated the chicken in a fat free sun dried tomato marinade.   If you don’t want to marinate it, you can season it to your preference.

Once the spaghetti squash has been made into strands, I mixed everything together in one giant bowl.  Not going to lie….didn’t look like the most appetizing meal I ever cooked.  But I still had high hopes for this.  After mixing all the ingredients so that there was tomato sauce on everything, I put it in a 13×9 glass baking dish.   Then bake it in the oven at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes.  How I judged it on being done was by finding a piece of the shredded butternut squash and making sure it wasn’t very crunchy.

Let it cool for a few minutes and serve!

After baking

After baking

 

Even my boyfriend loved this dish!  If it gets his seal of approval, it has to be good!   It heats up well the next day in the oven or the microwave, so it is prefect for lunch the next day!