Years ago, I was the queen of cooking for a crowd. I had to! I was a church volunteer who was often tasked with feeding teens and young adults alongside my other duties as a leader. In the case of the young adults, I would immediately volunteer for food purchasing/prepping when we’d go on retreats. Why?
Well, my grandmother was the long-time president of the Altar Society for the church I grew up in. That experience had lessons (*ahem* funeral luncheons *ahem*) that I will never forget. Planning on 50 people? Buy enough food to feed 65-70. Also, I come from a huge family. Does anyone know the scene in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” where Toula explains her family to Ian? Yep. That’s my family. We are big, loud, loving, crazy, and cooking for a family event is equal to cooking for an army. If you’ve ever been to a holiday dinner/BBQ or a family reunion, you know what I’m talking about!
I woke up one morning, remembering one specific weekend retreat I had done menu planning for. One of the dishes we had on the menu for the weekend was spaghetti. I planned on making my amazingly delicious meat sauce (I may share that secret sometime), but I wanted something else as well. I found a recipe for marinara sauce and the rest, as they say, is history. Being that this retreat was 6 years ago, I now can’t find the recipe I used to save my life. I wish our tomatoes were ripe (soon!), however, I looked in the backyard and saw my roommate’s herb garden full of deliciousness just waiting to be played around with. I made a quick run to the store to get some ingredients I knew I’d need and then started cooking.
Marinara sauce is quick and easy to make. Sauté some onions, celery, and carrots. Add tomatoes and garlic. Then add some tomato sauce, tomato paste, and herbs. Let it simmer. That’s it.
I like my sauce to be chunky, so I don’t do much to it after I’ve simmered it. If you like yours to be smoother, place in a blender (you can use an immersion blender if you have one) and pulse until it’s at your desired consistency.
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium-large sweet onion, diced
- 3 stalks of celery, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 4 tomatoes "on the vine", diced
- 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
- 1 heaping tsp garlic, chopped
- 1 6 oz can tomato paste
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 2-3 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped
- 5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, cook until translucent. Add celery and carrots, cook until soft. Add tomatoes, garlic, tomato paste, sauce, and herbs. Cover and simmer over low heat for an hour until thickened.
- While this is great over pasta, it is also great to eat on its own with some bread.