February 16, 2015

Homemade Marinara Sauce

Recipe challenge, week seven.

When it comes to my teacher personality, I take my read-alouds very seriously.  I have a schedule.  Certain books are read to the class at certain times of the year.  Sometimes I add in new books, and sometimes I read the same book I've been reading to 4th graders since 2010.  For example, I read No Talking by Andrew Clements every year.  This year, I decided to incorporate First Light by Rebecca Stead.  The kids like it well enough, but it's pretty long actually.  I didn't think that far ahead when I decided to start it in January. I do 1-2 chapters a day and I have it planned to end on a certain day so I can start the next book.  The other day, I had a substitute and I left very specific instructions: Read Chapter 32 from First Light.  She made it 3 pages into an 8-page chapter and that's where I found the bookmark when I went back to school on Friday.  I was not happy.  

Then, when I asked the kids why she just stopped in the middle of the chapter (continuity and closure are essential to their understanding!), they said she started telling a story about a dog because something in the book reminded her of this dog. Of course, that's not what she wrote in the plans.  She'd checked it off, like it'd been completed.
They make us fill out a review for each substitute and, meanly, I put that on there.  Of course, nothing will come of it because this is the same substitute I had a month ago.  At that time, she had let the kids leave crap (they have a lot of crap) all over the floor and somehow my school laptop was on the floor also, and I almost tramped on it when I walked in the door.

I digress.

One read-aloud I particularly love is Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm.  I bought it in college when I needed a book for a project.  $16 for a hardcover from Barnes and Noble wasn't in my budget but it looked good and then I ended up really liking it.  (Then I went next door to Ulta and bought shampoo and conditioner I also couldn't afford.  Two years later, Scott would be paying off this credit card.)

I first read Penny from Heaven to my 4th grade class in 2012.  Also known as "the best fourth grade class ever".  They loved it.  They were invested.  They were so upset when it was over.  They appreciated it in the same way I appreciated it.  I haven't found a group of kids like that, as a whole, since.

Penny centers around an Italian-American family in the 1950s and my favorite parts are the descriptions of the food.  Oh, the food.  

"Dinner is a big production here, and it takes hours. We usually start off with some soup, and then we have macaroni, and then some meat, like breast of veal or braciole, which is braised beef rolls, with vegetables and potatoes. After that there's salad, just lettuce with oil and vinegar, no tomatoes or anything else. Then there's a break...Then comes coffee and nuts and fruit and cordials.  After that, we'll sometimes have a snack.  

I start in on the soup, which has escarole and bits of egg...Here, food is everything...They call pasta 'macaroni'. At home we say it's tomato sauce, and here they call it gravy." -Penny from Heaven

My friend Jenna gave me this sauce recipe because she grew up in an Italian family where they simmered the sauce all day.  She made her homemade sauce for us when she visited last summer and I've been meaning to recreate it ever since.  This is her family's recipe, and I didn't change much.  I will say that she doesn't add sugar to hers (it's, I suppose, a personal preference when it comes to the serious business of sauce-making), but I've made two batches in the last few weeks and I added sugar to one.  It's a very subtle difference.

Homemade Marinara Sauce
makes about 8 cups

1 can tomato paste
1 can tomato puree (28 oz)
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. fresh basil, chopped
2 T. fresh oregano, chopped
1/2-1 t. red pepper flakes
1 t. brown sugar, if desired
Olive oil

Coat the bottom of a large stockpot with olive oil.  Turn on medium-low heat and add the garlic.  Let it cook for a minute and then add in the red pepper flakes.  Allow it to cook for a minute or so, but don't let the garlic brown.

Pour in the tomatoes and tomato paste.  Stir and add the herbs (and sugar, if desired).

Cover and allow to simmer on low -low heat.  At least an hour is best, but you can also allow it to cook all day.

After it cools, it can be frozen in Ziploc bags.  I usually split it into 4 bags and lay it flat in the freezer.

(Again, Recipage will NOT work.)


  1. Oh yummm this looks so good! I've never made my own pasta or marinara sauce but I really want to try, I know it's so much better than the stuff in a jar!

  2. This looks amazing! I have been needing a new recipe for this, thanks for sharing!

  3. I love that when you share a recipe...it's not just a recipe. There's always a bit of you in every one of these posts and I appreciate that so much. We take sauce making pretty seriously in my very large, Italian-Catholic family...so I can totally relate to the snippet from Penny in Heaven! And that substitute would be on my freaking list...goodness. That kind of stuff really irritates me!

  4. My mom's dad was from Italy and she used to have long Sunday Suppers like that with her family. Now, we don't really know any of that family (isn't that sad?) but eating is an event still in my fam...not necessarily Italian, but the same concept. Also, I love marinara sauce in general :)

  5. Yummm I love homemade sauce!! I remember we used to have long Sunday meals with my grandparents when I was growing up: soup, salad, pasta course, and somehow we had to eat a whole meat dish after that (and dessert). I don't make my own sauce too often, but my mom (and Nona)'s looks a lot like this one.

  6. Grate Recipe.
    Digestive Enzyme are Enzyme that break down polymeric macromolecules into their smaller building blocks, in order to facilitate their absorption by the body. Digestive enzymes are found in the digestive tracts of animals (including humans) and in the traps of carnivorous plants, where they aid in the digestion of food, as well as inside cells, especially in their lysosomes, where they function to maintain cellular survival. Digestive enzymes are diverse and are found in the saliva secreted by the salivary glands, in the stomach secreted by cells lining the stomach, in the pancreatic juice secreted by pancreatic exocrine cells, and in the intestinal (small and large) secretions, or as part of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

  7. This sounds so, so good. I've been looking for a new marinara sauce recipe to try, too.

    Also, I would love you as my daughter's teacher.

  8. This does look fantastic. I want to make something with it now!

  9. i have never made homemade marinara sauce - for some reason the brown sugar that's in everyones recipes turns me off, though i know store bought stuff has way worse in it, so i just need to get over it and make it.
    that substitute teacher sounds like an absolute idiot. too mean?

  10. I love the idea of freezing marinara sauce. I really need to get better about freezing stuff...my plan while Isaiah's gone is to completely clean out and reorganize my freezer and make a bunch of soups and sauces and stuff that I can put in Ziplocks to freeze. I would probably leave out the brown sugar, just because I do NOT like sweet tomato sauces at all...


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