Sassy Tomato Marinara

This red sauce is fresh.

Spaghetti topped with a sassy-sweet red sauce is one of my favorite things in the entire world.

A little sweetener is crucial to counterbalance the tomatoes’ acidity – the caress within the sting. In many of my recipes I like to use stevia, a sweet plant extract, which in flavorful dishes ably does the job without adding calories or a glycemic spike. You can get it in packets or as a liquid. I like to use the packets (without added artificial sweeteners like erythritol, just a couple ingredients like silica and inulin to make it powdery ) since it makes for easy measuring. The sassiness factor is upped by using fire-roasted tomatoes instead of regular crushed tomatoes – the flavor is more voluptuous, with little blackened smoky bits adding to the richness. While this sauce is deceptively simple (I typically make a batch every week) it’s so good I’m rarely not disappointed by Italian restaurant red sauce! And the traditional method involves hours of simmering. I feel like such a cheater.

One batch serves 3-4. I’ll get three meals out of it by myself, but I lay it on thicc.

Ingredients

  • 1 28-oz can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, depending on how plump the cloves are
  • 1/2 T olive oil
  • bunch basil (typical package of 3/4 oz. is usually enough, I often use more), chopped
  • 1 T. oregano
  • 1 packet stevia (or equivalent of 2 tsp sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste
  • black pepper, freshly ground is best

Chop the onion somewhat small and mince or crush the garlic (I use a sturdy fork, per Jacques Pepin) and add them to a medium saucepan with the olive oil and about 2 T water. Heat on low-medium heat and stir to lubricate the aromatics and keep them from sticking to the pan. Add water as needed until the onions start to soften. Add the oregano and black pepper – if you don’t know how much pepper to add, start with just a dash or a pinch. Cook until the onions are translucent and darkening from the oregano. Your kitchen will be starting to smell like an Italian restaurant by now! Stir in the salt as well.

Add the canned tomatoes and stevia and stir well to combine. Add the basil last, saving a little (if you wish) for garnish. Let this decadent brew heat through until it bubbles, stirring occasionally. You can let it simmer on low heat while you cook the pasta and make a salad. It really doesn’t need to cook that long! Serve on pasta topped with basil and/or vegan parmesan.

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