brea, the saucemaster.



my friend brea and i have shared many meals. breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner,… all kinds of events. i think we both love food. the first thing she ever served to me, in the early days, was a vegetarian meatball sub with an amazing sauce. this was over 2 years ago. it remains, to this day, the best meatball sub i have ever eaten, and the best red sauce to pass my lips. she and her sauce were mentioned in my last post, because of her contribution to a dinner party. it is my understanding that this recipe has been a secret until now.

believe me when i say, this is well worth any amount of time and thought you put into it. like i said before, it is just a tad sweet, and full of flavor. but the flavors are also under your own control, because this is a recipe free recipe. the vegetables come together with the simmer time, so please don’t rush this sauce. brea is on to something when she says “add spices slowly so you don’t over season”. from the tastes of it, i suspect a lot of the flavor comes from axillary vegetables, like carrots and bell peppers. so keep the flavor coming from the veg, and not too much from seasonings.

i’m happy that this recipe doesn’t really use set “amounts” of things, because it is important in kitchen and in life to experiment a little with our own ideas of “what is good”. non-recipe-recipes like this allow us to gain a little experience in the kitchen with both improvising and learning a common sense of food combinations. for those of us who cook a lot AND those of us who don’t,… all of can gain something from winging it a little. this non-recipe is perfect for that. i am in no way calling this elementary, i’m just calling it simple, versatile, and heavily reliant on cook’s creativity.

i think this is one of those things that you can prep, stick on the stove, and do other things in between stirs. from the looks and tastes of it, slow simmer is key here, as it is with a lot of tomato things. sugars are slowly released from the vegetable. i can tell you from personal experience that this is really good on bread as an italian sub with some (in my case vegetarian) meatballs. i’m sorry to say that i don’t have a picture of this sauce, but i do have a picture of brea!

thanks again to brea, here it is, in her words:

So this is how I make marinara sauce, which is one of the only things I can do without a real recipe. How much I make kind of depends on how many vegetables I put in the pot – I add enough tomatoes until I like the consistency. I bet its a 1:2 ratio for vegetables:tomato products.  That is a guess.  I like to make a lot and freeze the remainder.

What you’ll need:
olive oil
vegetables of your choosing
dried or fresh herbs (basil/oregano/basil)
cans of tomato products: puree/diced/whole plum tomz & tomato paste.
Put some olive oil in a sauce pot.  How big should the sauce pot be?  Depends on how much sauce are you going to make, just keep that in mind.  I trust your judgment.
Cut up onion and grate some carrots.  you should have less carrots than onions by about 1/4 c. for every 1 cup. Add it to warm oil and stir around.  If you like garlic, you should add it now and its amount depends on how much vegetables you add and how much you like garlic.  I don’t think there is such a thing as too much garlic.
at this point you can add vegetables of your choice.  I always add peppers and sometimes I add in other things like mushrooms or squash.  You can even use the sauce as an excuse to get rid of vegetables you don’t can’t use quickly enough. .  It’s important to keep in mind how long it will take for your vegetables to soften a bit before you add the tomatoes because they’ll keep simmering for a while after that AND you want to make sure you get everything into the pot.
After the vegetables have softened up a bit (e.g. the onions are translucent) you can add some salt and a lil bit of sugar.  The salt can be to taste and you shouldn’t do more than 1 tsp to 1 tbsp of sugar, depending on what you’ve got going on.
Open up some cans of tomato products.  I recommend using both tomato puree and some canned whole or diced tomatoes.  If you use whole you should try to smash them up a bit before hand if you plan on simmering the sauce for less than 2 hours.  Add them until it starts to look good, whatever that means to you.   Eventually, you may want to add a small amount of tomato paste, which I highly recommend doing (my sauce always turns out better).
Add the herbs now fresh or dried (just remember that you need less dried than fresh) – I would do this process kind of slowly, adding a little bit at a time so as not to over season.
Now bring the sauce to a boil.  Depending on how much you have, it could take a while.  When that’s over, let it simmer for at least ten minutes until as long as you can take it.  Then serve over noodles or on bread or meatballs.

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