The cuisine that I found the most comfort when trying to teach myself to cook was Italian. I think most people feel the same way when I say Italian cuisine feels like comfort. Even though there’s a lot to each dish from boiling, sauteing, deglazing, and more–it’s the motivation that keeps us going because we know what the result will be. I’m not saying Italian cuisine is easy at all, but it’s the most approachable. The ingredients are not as intimidating as say Indian cuisine. There are only a few ingredients, and then it’s about making sure you’re using it the correct way.
One of the first things my mom had me do in the kitchen when she was trying to teach me some basic cooking skills before I went to college was to get involved in the cooking process and develop my my taste. Indian households have their recipes for dishes. Unlike some other cultures where recipes may differ by region or village, it’s per household in ours. The way my family makes something is completely different from the Indian family who live down the street. It’s all different because of preference. We might prefer our daal spicy, whereas our neighbors prefer it subtly sweet.
My mom took that concept and encouraged me to come up with my variation of recipe to some of the base recipes we use in the house starting with a marinara sauce recipe. This marinara sauce recipe came about from trying to understand the flavor profile I want to achieve. For my marinara sauce recipe, I wanted it to have a refreshing taste that celebrates the tomato. The surrounding ingredients should compliment the tomato rather than be the main act! It took time, but I think I’ve achieved the flavor and texture I always look for in a marinara sauce and I’m happy with it.
The Star Ingredients
As I mentioned, I wanted to achieve a refreshing marinara sauce that embraces the tomato. I needed to pick ingredients that didn’t make the sauce too dark in color or dense in flavor. You can serve it as a sauce to dip in or even apply it to lasagna or pizza. So here are the ingredients I chose to build my recipe around:
- Tomato Paste is made of tomatoes that have been cooked for several hours, strained, and then results in a paste. It builds a rich tomato flavor, which is why I use it as the base of my sauce.
- Pinor noir is a dry red wine that is usually light to medium-bodied with lovely acidity. It’s the red wine Italians typically go for in the summer! It’s also the only type of wine I’ll use for my marinara sauce recipe.
- Fennel seeds are a spice that grows from a flowering plant that is part of the carrot family. It has a slightly sweet and licorice-type taste. It adds a gorgeous depth of flavor that reminds me of outdoor summer cooking!
If you like this marinara sauce recipe, then I urge you to check out my mushroom bolognese recipe that I love making in the colder months! Do you have your own marinara sauce recipe? Let me know what it’s like in the comments!
In a sauce pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Then add the white onion, carrots, and garlic. Season with a little salt and pepper and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and continue stirring for 3 minutes, or until the oil separates. It’s important to fully incorporate tomato paste into the onion-carrot-garlic mixture as it will help build a strong flavor profile.
Then add in the chopped tomatoes, dried Italian seasoning, and season with a bit more salt and pepper. Bring the temperature down to medium-low and let that mixture simmer, while stirring occassionally, for 10 minutes. The chopped tomatoes should look like a sauce now. Don’t stress too much if the mixture is slightly sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Increase the heat to high and once the mixture starts boiling, add in the wine. As the wine boils, use your spatula to scrape up the bottom of the pan. Let that mixture reduce by half, about 5-7 minutes.
Stir in the tomato sauce, fennel seeds, dried oregano, and season one last time with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to low heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.