Easy Marinara Sauce Recipe

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I grew up in an Italian-American family where it was considered a sacrilege if one ate canned pasta sauce. Ever. In fact, I never ate canned sauce unless I happened to be at a friend’s house. My mom, who is not Italian, diligently learned how to make amazing “gravy” as we all called it, from Italian women in my dad’s family and friend group. This gravy always included meatballs and often, sausage. She didn’t make marinara sauce very often, which is a quick meat-free sauce, and when she did, it often seemed over-acidic to me.

 

When I decided to follow a vegetarian diet nearly five years ago, I knew I needed to find a good marinara sauce recipe; one that was rich, garlicky and had just the right balance of acidity and mellow mouthfeel. I bought Chloe Coscarelli’s cookbook, Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen, and liked her marinara sauce recipe. I’ve tweaked it a bit and here is what I make once a week to use on pasta and homemade pizza.

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As I almost always do with recipes, I give you an amount range for a few ingredients. For example, if the tomatoes you are using are sweet and not too acidic, you might not need all the sugar or milk. You also might prefer a less garlicky sauce, so use less garlic. Cooking has a lot to do with personal taste, so adjust it to your liking.

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Easy Marinara Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 cup of water, approximately
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk, such as almond (optional)
  • 2-4 tablespoons fresh parsley or basil, chopped (optional)

In a thick-bottomed pot on medium heat, heat the olive oil, add garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds until it turns golden, stirring and watching it carefully to prevent burning.

Add water and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any garlic that might be sticking.

Add tomatoes and the salt through milk, and bring to a simmer, stirring gently to combine. Simmer for 10-15 minutes and remove from heat.

Adjust seasonings. Add fresh herbs if desired.

Notes and Options:

This lasts for about a week to ten days in the fridge.

It can also be frozen and thawed for a later time.

Feel free to add dried fennel, basil, thyme, or other dried herbs you prefer.

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A Little Island Addition (Juice Recipe)

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My eyes are doing so well these days! It’s not that I don’t have to be careful when I want to open them when I wake up. I still proceed with caution and a bottle of eye drops in hand, but I have not had an extreme episode of corneal erosion since I started juicing again last month.

Do I get tired of washing, peeling, and cutting up vegetables and fruits and cleaning the juicer afterward? Yes, of course I do, but I just have to remind myself of the alternative (extreme eye pain, puffy, scratchy, red eyes, light sensitivity, migraines…loss of productivity) and then my perspective becomes clearer. It’s a very small portion of time and energy out of my day and the benefit of eye health far outweighs any inconvenience. I’m so thankful for the simplicity of the solution.

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Because my eyes are what I am mainly treating with juice, I’m always using carrots as a base, but this week, for some variety, I added pineapple. So here is the recipe; it makes about three pints, which lasts a couple of days for me and Alan. Feel free to cut it in half.

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  • 10 carrots, tops cut off
  • 4 cups, peeled and cut up pineapple
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into large pieces
  • 2 oranges, peeled and halved
  • 2 apples, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 1 pear, cut into large pieces

 

Enjoy!

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In Search of Soup (Recipe)

Happy International Women’s Day! This post won’t directly relate to this celebration of women; it’s about soup. However, soup is nurturing, soothing, and kind to us, and maybe a bit like a mother, grandmother, good friend, or Mother Earth. 

I don’t know what has been my problem this last fall and winter, but I just didn’t feel like making or eating soup. The idea would pop up occasionally, but I couldn’t get inspired enough to make a soup that I really wanted. This is so unusual for me; my kids could tell you how they ate soup two or three times a week fall through spring as they grew up. Maybe that’s it: I burned out.

Anyway, this week, I think I finally turned a corner. The weather here in Interlaken, NY, is still snowy and cold. The Spring birds might be singing, but Winter is stubbornly holding on.

My daughter has nightly rehearsals for the musical Shrek at school and I’m trying to ensure she gets something nutritious in her before she goes back to school each night for four hours.

Today, as I was thinking about what to make, I remembered a soup recipe I was given last year from a young man I worked with last year at a cafe in Trumansburg. His version was sweet potato and kale, which was delicious, but today, I decided I wanted to swap in spinach. So I did.

Here’s the recipe, simple and comforting. I give you a range of amounts, because it’s really ok to make more or less. This is a very flexible recipe, as are most soups, so make as much or as little as you’d like.

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Sweet Potato-Spinach Soup (serves 4 or more)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3-4 sweet potatoes (I used yams), peeled and cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 6-10 cups water
  • 1-2 bouillon cubes
  • 1/4-1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3-4 handfuls baby spinach ( or a bunch of kale, stemmed and chopped)
  • salt to taste

In a soup pot, heat oil, add onion and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Add sweet potatoes, and saute a few more minutes, stirring often. Add water, nutritional yeast, bouillon and red pepper, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cook until sweet potatoes are soft enough to eat, and add spinach. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Feel free to add rice or noodles if desired.

 

 

Pumpkin Please and Butternut Too

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For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been lactose intolerant my whole life. I also struggled with migraines for many years and, after trying various things to get rid of them, I went gluten free in 2013. My migraines almost completely disappeared. So whenever I share a recipe here, it will be dairy and gluten free. Here is a pumpkin smoothie recipe I love, adapted from the The Oh She Glows Cookbook.

 

 

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie:

(I tend to make giant smoothies; I drink half in the morning and half in the afternoon.)

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk, or milk of choice

1/2 cup pumpkin purèe

1 banana

2 tablespoons gluten free rolled oats

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon and ginger

(optional) 2 scoops Naked Pea Protein Powder

Throw everything into your blender ( I have and love the Vitamin 5200) and blend until smooth. If it’s not sweet enough for you, add a little maple syrup or molasses.

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Roasted Butternut Squash and Apples:

1 small butternut squash

2-3 apples

So simple! Preheat the oven to 425. Peel, seed and cut up the squash and cut the apples into similarly-sized pieces. Place in a bowl, coat with canola, sunflower or olive oil. Place on rimmed baking pan lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Roast for 20-35 minutes, checking them every so often so they don’t burn. Remove from oven, place on a cooling rack. Add to salad, or serve over quinoa, rice or pasta. Or just eat them by themselves.

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