Homemade Marinara Sauce – and Pesto!

Homemade Marinara

I canned up 30 qts of marinara sauce, and I’m worried it won’t be enough to get us through to next summer. This stuff is good, you guys. We’ve already used it on top of noodles, in a baked ziti dish, as pizza sauce, and just for miscellaneous dunking. I was already pretty picky about jarred tomato sauce, but now? Poor Paul Newman isn’t getting another dime from me.

People are often surprised by carrots in a marinara sauce, so if that weirds you out, don’t think of them as carrots. Think of the onions, celery, and carrots as the holy trinity of aromatic vegetables – Mirepoix. Don’t skip them, even if you can’t imagine what they’re doing there. They will bring a depth and richness to your sauce that you won’t be able to get any other way.

Homemade Pesto

When I was at the grocery store getting the odds and ends I needed for the sauce, they had a ton of huge, mature, basil plants out front marked down to end of summer prices. I snapped up three of them, figuring I’d can up some pesto while I was at it, only to discover that you can’t home can pesto. So I dropped spoonfuls into mini cupcake tins and popped them in the freezer. Now I have a freezer bag full of little pre-portioned pesto dinners waiting for the night I can’t be bothered to cook. Probably soon.

Tresa’s Marinara Sauce

1/2 C carrots
1/2 C onions
1/2 C celery
1/4 C olive oil
5 C tomato puree
1/4 C red wine
2 T fresh basil
2 cloves garlic
1 T salt

Chop the carrots, onion, and celery into a fine dice, or grate them. Cook with the olive oil over a low heat until the carrots are tender and the onions are translucent. If using fresh tomatoes, make the puree by first removing the skin. Cook in hot water for a minute or so, then plunge into cold water. The skin should come right off. Remove the core and blend the tomatoes in a blender. Add the rest of the ingredients to the vegetables and cook at a low heat for at least 30 minutes to let all the flavors meld. Use a stick blender or transfer the sauce to a regular blender and blend until all the vegetables are pureed and smooth.

To can the marinara sauce, you have to use a pressure canner. I canned these at 10 lbs of pressure for 20 minutes each.


Pesto Sauce

1 oz pine nuts
1/2 C olive oil
6 C basil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 C water

Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan until they take on a little color and smell heavenly. Toss everything in the blender and mix until smooth. Add more water if necessary.