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Marinara sauce is great for pasta, roasted vegetables, homemade pizza
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Marinara sauce over pappardelle pasta. - photo by Shannon M. Smurthwaite
Marinara, or classic "red" sauce, is a recipe collection must-have. Believed to have originated in Naples, Italy, marinara or "Mariner's sauce" gained popularity by joining two basics: tomatoes and herbs.

By using either garden-fresh ingredients or pantry basics, you can create a thick, healthy, low-caloric vegan dish that is beefy in its own right. It can top your favorite pasta, roasted vegetables or homemade pizza dough. It also serves as a creative dipping sauce for baguettes and other dense yeast-breads.

Give yourself permission to embellish this recipe. Love capers? Add a teaspoon or two. Adore mushrooms and onions? Double the amount listed. I've used cherry tomatoes in season, quartered, in place of canned petite diced tomatoes. Go ahead and take some culinary risks to accommodate personal preferences and a few picky eaters in your family.

My recipe is a mild marinara that seems to please the majority of pasta lovers in our circle. If you want to add a little heat, consider a dash of red pepper flakes. A little goes a long way.

It's quick to prepare, taking about 45 minutes on a stove top in a large stock pot, or 4-5 hours in your slow cooker. This budget-friendly recipe will not disappoint.

*****

Shannon's Basic Marinara

Serves: 6

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced

cup mushrooms, washed, sliced

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

pepper, freshly cracked to taste

salt (fine, sea) to taste

2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes in oil, snipped

1 can (28 ounces) crushed peeled tomatoes

1 can (14.5 ounces) petite diced tomatoes, include juice

1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

parsley, to taste

In a slow cooker, on high setting, roast onion, mushrooms, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper in olive oil for 1 hour. Stir ingredients well, cover.

Add in remaining ingredients and reduce heat to low. Stir several times during the simmering. Cook 3-4 hours more, covered.

Serve over 12-16 ounces of your favorite pasta, roasted vegetables or use as a pizza sauce. Also great for thick bread dipping.
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