Growing up in an Italian family, I developed a fondness for marinara sauce, or red sauce from a very early age. And, not just any marinara sauce, good marinara sauce. Personally, I don’t like my sauce to be sweet, I prefer a little tartness to it. My grandmother made a thin sauce and my mom makes a sauce with ground beef and mushrooms but my favorite sauce of all was my dad’s recipe. As much as I loved his, over the years, I have switched it up and it’s evolved to the point of near perfection. At least according to my family. It’s best when cooked in a slow cooker for hours and it’s even better after it’s sat for days. I make a huge batch and freeze the extra to enjoy later. I hope you like it as much as we do!
I start by chopping up a yellow onion and sauté it with some chopped garlic. I love chopped garlic, but I don’t like the way my hands smell, so I take the lazy way out and use my Pampered Chef garlic press. I don’t even have to peel the garlic and my hands don’t smell when I’m finished.
I cook the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent, then remove the pan from the heat.
Everything else goes right into the slow cooker. Lots of yummy spices, parmesan cheese, tomato sauce, tomato puree, tomato paste, onions and garlic…..what could be better?
I put the slow cooker on low and just stir it every 30 minutes or so and let all of those flavors combine. You can even add some dry red wine if you’re feeling adventurous.
I like to add sausage or meatballs because we’re not vegetarians around here. Not that there is anything wrong with being a vegetarian. If you are, then this sauce is still for you. I promise you will love it.
Today I decided to add some sausage. I made turkey sweet Italian sausage. Sometimes we go for the pork sausage, but summer is coming so we’re cooking with turkey tonight. I start by pricking each sausage 3 times per side with a fork. Then I add olive oil to a large skillet and cover the sausage with water and once the water comes to a boil, let the sausage cook for 10 minutes.
All of the fat comes to the surface and then I drain it off and let the casings crisp up in the remaining olive oil. The crisp casings add such great flavor, especially after the sausage soaks in the red sauce for a couple of hours. You can cut them with a fork and they melt in your mouth. Trust me, a couple of extra steps is sometimes well worth the effort.
Good, Italian pasta is a must in my opinion. It’s a little more pricey, but completely worth it. Good ingredients make a big difference and pasta is such an affordable ingredient as it is. Go for the good stuff! If you have never splurged on good, Italian pasta, do it for me when you make this dish. I’ll be so very grateful.
Boil the pasta until just past al dente. I like to add a bit of olive oil to the pasta water so that it doesn’t stick together. All of the chefs on Food Network add salt to the water. I don’t find it necessary and for me, extra sodium is extra sodium. The sauce has plenty of flavor, so believe me, your pasta will not be bland!
Top the pasta with a plenty helping of sauce, some meat if you like and freshly grated parmesan cheese and chopped, fresh basil.
If you try this recipe, I would love to see a photo! Tag #ketchumkitchen on Instagram.