Spicy Homemade Marinara

As promised, to accompany the rosemary focaccia, I am making my spicy homemade marinara with plenty of garlic and hot pepper flakes and oregano to wake up your senses. Paired with the rosemary in the focaccia, this marinara will come alive in your mouth and make you beg for more. While store-bought marinara and pasta sauces have their perks of ease (open can - pour - heat - serve), homemade marinara is only a few steps more (dice - add spices - blend - heat - serve), made even quicker in the tomato off-season by canned diced tomatoes. Though there is nothing that can compare to straight-out-of-the-garden, ripe tomatoes in summer. If you can afford the extra 5 minutes of chopping, do!

I make prepping the ingredients a meditation, and try to be really present, enjoying each click of the knife blade on wood, and admiring the pretty piles of chopped ingredients that will soon join each other in molecular matrimony. I get to pick fresh parsley from my herb garden and breathe in their aroma as i chop them up to bits. The most time consuming part of any tomato sauce is the slow-simmering which takes upwards of several hours (only 30 minutes or so in this recipe) but really helps the flavors bloom.

For the most part, you can walk away from the stove and let it do it's thang, which is my slang for letting the magic of cooking happen or the bio-chemical reactions on a molecular level take place.

I use Muir Glen's organic diced tomatoes. Their manifesto claims their tomatoes make it "from field to can in eight hours or less to lock in flavor," and this is right up my alley. While they did take the cross-continent journey from Sacremento, CA to Richmond, VA to end up on my plate, I am only just beginning my experiences in home-canning. Tackling tomatoes, after this year's Hanover Tomato Festival in July, will be my next canning adventure (and you'll get to hear all about it later this summer!).

Ingredients (yields approx. 3 cups)
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes, or 1 1/2 pounds of fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 10 oz can tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed chili flakes (reduce by half for less heat)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of vermouth (or white wine)

Begin by preparing all the diced ingredients. Add all but the last three ingredients to a food processor and pulse until well-blended and a texture you like. Heat up the oil in a 3 quart sauce pan under medium-high heat and add the onions. Once the onions are translucent, pour in the vermouth and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve warm with sliced focaccia bread sticks or refrigerate for up to 1 week for use over pasta or polenta.

I sliced my focaccia into 1 1/2 inch strips and then in half down the middle to make dip-able breadsticks for the party.

Look at that spongy texture!

I'm gonna have a hard time waiting until 7 p.m. ...

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