Marinara sauce was not part of my vocabulary until adulthood. What everyone else knows as marinara sauce was tomato gravy in my family. In all honesty, in familial conversation, I say tomato gravy; however, outside of New Orleans and the Sicilian enclave of my relatives, tomato gravy is something entirely different from marinara or my tomato gravy. And, it’s eaten over biscuits. Just so we’re all on the same page, this is not that kind of tomato gravy.
Over the years, my gravy has evolved from the recipe I learned from my mother, who learned it from her mother, my grandma, and well, you get the picture. In the original, after all of the tomato products were added to the sauteed seasoning, nearly 2 quarts of water was added. Because the gravy needed hours to simmer and reduce, it had to be started by 8am if there were plans to serve it for lunch, which, of course, was nearly every Sunday. Maybe the long cooking time allowed the cook to prepare the other food on the menu, which usually consisted of meatballs and/or Italian sausage, a platter of baked or fried chicken, potato salad, fried and breaded vegetable of some kind, a salad, and last but not least, hot bread. I know, it’s definitely a comical cliche, but I’m totally serious, and it’s perfectly fine to be amused. But, what’s really funny is that the other Sunday meal, braised rump roast, was served with potatoes, green peas, and a salad and nothing more, a dearth by comparison, yes? Moving on…
I wanted a full-bodied sauce that didn’t require 4 hours, and last year, finally, I finally created the best sauce I have ever tasted. Ego, much? Seriously, I’m absolutely satisfied with this gravy. It’s the gravy for my meatballs, lasagne, stuffed shells, meatsauce, eggplant and chicken parmesan. When I make pizza, I add oregano, and voila, pizza sauce. It’s the workhorse of my Sicilian kitchen.
Tomato Gravy aka Marinara Sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
12oz bag frozen seasoning (onions, celery, bell pepper)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 12 oz can tomato sauce
1 28 oz can tomato puree
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon +2 teaspoons sugar
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried basil or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped and added just before serving
2 cups warm water
Over medium-high heat and using a dutch oven or large saucepan, saute seasoning mix and garlic in 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil until soft and lightly brown on the edges.
Add sugar, tomato paste, and bay leaf.
Stir well and cook for 5 minutes.
Lower the heat and add the sauce, puree, and crushed tomatoes.
Once well-mixed, pour in the water and bring sauce to a boil.
Lower heat and simmer for 90 minutes, stirring often, until sauce has thickened.
Remove bay leaf and and add in fresh basil.
***If adding meatballs, allow sauce to simmer for 1 hour before adding the meatballs.
Serve with pasta.
©Louanne Bertrand and Louanne’s Kitchen, 2010-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Louanne Bertrand and Louanne’s Kitchen with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.