Friday, April 20, 2012

Foodie Friday: Hobbit-ish Oven Roasted Marinara

Hey Humble Readers...

I almost forgot that it was Friday!  And that would totally suck because I have what I happen to think is a great recipe for you all today. 

A couple of years ago, I started messing around with making my own spaghetti sauce.  My family has never been the kind of people to use pre-made jarred sauce (and please don't get me started on the concept of meat sauces in a jar or can... *shudder* ...which is odd because I'm fine with most canned soups.  I never claimed to be sane).  My mom always used the plainest tomato sauce and then doctored it up with veggies, meat, and spices.  I started out in that frame of mind, but then slowly started expanding on it, and this is what I use now. 

This recipe freezes amazingly well, which is why I make it in big batches.  Also, in my mind, pasta should be a relatively easy meal, and having to fuss with a major sauce every time I want pasta is just NOT cool in my book. 

Fair warning, it will feel like you are dirtying every single dish in your kitchen to make this, but it's soooo worth it.  And I know, it seems labour intensive, but it's really not that hard.  Trust me.  Have I ever steered you wrong? 

I use grape or cherry tomatoes for this most of the time because they usually taste better than hot-house tomatoes in the off season, and they roast up faster.  I also like that the skins are more delicate and that you don't need to peel them.

Hobbit-ish Oven Roasted Marinara

4 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
1 lg yellow onion (or 3 med), chopped into wedges or large chunks
3 lg bulbs of garlic
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
3 lg cans diced tomatoes
2 cans tomato paste
Fresh Basil
Bay leaves
Dried Thyme
Dried Oregano
Fennel Seed
Red Pepper Flakes

Preheat oven to 425F.  Cut the tops off the bulbs of garlic, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Wrap the garlic in foil, and roast in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour (I sometimes do this the night before).  Remove from oven and allow to cool until you can handle them. 

On a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper*, arrange grape tomatoes in a single layer.  On a second lined rimmed baking sheet, arrange onion in a single layer.  Drizzle both trays with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Toss gently with your fingers to make sure everything is coated.  Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes.  You may want to turn the broiler on for the last 5 minutes or so, to get those nicely charred bits of tomato skin.  Yum!  You will know that the veggies are ready when the tomato skins have burst and they have released a lot of their juice.

While the tomatoes and onions are roasting up, squeeze the roasted garlic bulbs into your food processor or blender (so that the cloves slide out of their skin).  You want all of that sweet garlicky goodness in there! 

When tomatoes and onions are done roasting, add them to the food processor as well, along with any juices.  Depending on the size of your processor, you might need to do this in two batches.  Pulse your food processor several times to semi-puree the veggies.  I like my sauce to be a bit on the chunky side, so I don't let the processor go for too long at a time. 

Pour tomato/onion/garlic combo into your slow cooker or a large stock pot.  Add in the cans of diced tomatoes and tomato paste.  Stir to thoroughly combine.

Season with herbs to your taste.  I like a LOT of basil, so I use a whole bunch of chopped fresh basil leaves.  I also use a couple of dried bay leaves (make sure to take them out later), a generous palmful each of dried thyme and oregano, half a palmful of fennel seed, and some red pepper flakes.  You can also add some salt and pepper at this point if you like.

I cook this on low in my slow cooker for 6-8 hours, stirring occassionally. Allow to cool completely.  Transfer to freezer storage bags and freeze for up to 6 months.  (I have several bags of this in my freezer right now.)
This was taken at about 5 hours into cooking.
 The sauce thickens up as it cooks and cools
This recipe usually makes enough for three large freezer bags, each bag being enough sauce for two meals and some leftovers for my Beloved, Ginny, and I.  When you use the sauce, you can add more to it if you like... I saute up some diced celery, button mushrooms, and green bell peppers (things that don't freeze all that well), and brown up some lean ground beef, italian sausage, or chicken breast pieces. 

*You want to line your baking sheets because the acid in the tomatoes WILL pit your baking sheets and make them challenging to clean.



  1. My mouth is watering like crazy right now. Marinara from scratch? Wow!

  2. Sounds awesome! I've wanted to start making my sauce from scratch so I'll have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing with us!


Hobbits are social creatures, and love hearing from friends old and new. Pull up a comfy chair and let's get to know one another.