Before having kids, I never cared about cooking certain food at home; I always believed in the idea of “why cook this when it’s available in the supermarket?”.
But with all the health raised issues about most store bought items, I started to be more inclined towards cooking almost everything at home. It’s healthier, cheaper & definitely free from all those poisonous preservatives.
I love making marinara sauce with canned tomatoes; it comes out perfectly sweet & tangy; just spot on. Trying to use less canned ingredients, I tested cooking the marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes but it was a big flop!
I don’t know what kept going wrong but it never reached the same authentic taste I was looking for. It always turned into the regular “Egyptian Salsa” we use in cooking our vegetables!
Because this sauce is considered a kitchen essential for me, I never stopped trying! I wanted something to give me the deep red color & sweet tangy flavor you get from using canned tomato!
I added a tiny small spoon of tomato paste; still turns into “Egyptian Salsa”. I added paprika, turned into a totally different sauce. I added sugar, it was not bad but still bland.
To my surprise, the answer has been lying in my fridge all the time but it never hit my mind!
Their sweetness & deep red color balanced the tangy taste of tomatoes; giving me a real authentic marinara sauce that tastes even better than the one I used to make with canned tomato.
Not only was I able to make a beautiful sauce with fresh organic tomatoes, I also guaranteed we are benefiting from the countless nutritional values of beetroots.
Speaking about marinara sauce being an essential for me, below are some of the endless ideas on how to use it:
- It goes without saying; marinara is one of the best pasta sauces ever created. Mix the sauce with boiled pasta & little pasta water to make it thinner then sprinkle with chopped parsley & parmesan cheese
- Add 1 or 2 tbsp to your white pasta sauce to have a delicious pasta with pink sauce!
- Mix it with sour cream & you have one hell of an amazing dip
- Use it as a spread in cheese sandwiches; SIMPLY WOW
- Use it as a dip (instead of ketchup) with nuggets, chicken strips, potato fries or fried mozzarella
- Mix it with cream cheese & you have one of my favorites sandwich spreads
- Top your grilled/fried chicken with marinara sauce + cheese & broil; I already started drooling!
Since this sauce freezes perfectly, I usually make a big batch & freeze it in zip lock bags “in portions” so that it’s accessible whenever I need it.
ALL PURPOSE TOMATO BEETROOT MARINARA SAUCE
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves minced
- 10 medium tomatoes
- 2 medium beetroots boiled & mashed*
- 1 tbsp dried oregano or basil or thyme (optional)
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or more to taste (optional)*
- 1 1/2 tsp vinegar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper
- Make a small cut on the top of each tomato & grate on a box grater*. This will separate the flesh from the skin. Disregard the skin.
- Heat a large non stick saute pan over medium heat, add 3 tbsp olive oil & swirl to cover the whole bottom.
- Add the chopped onion & cook for about 7-10 minutes until dark yellow but not browned. Add the minced garlic & give it a quick stir until fragrant but not browned.
- Add the grated tomato & mashed beetroots & stir to mix well with the onion/garlic mixture.
- Bring the sauce to a boil, season with dried herbs, red pepper flakes (if using) & pepper.
- Lower heat to low, simmer uncovered for about 25-30 minutes until the sauce reduces & thickens.
- Turn off the heat, add the vinegar + salt & adjust seasoning.
- Let cool then store in a airtight container in the fridge for about 4-5 days or freeze in zip lock bags for up to 3 weeks.
- For boiled beetroots: peel the beetroots, cover with tap water in a pot. Bring the water to a boil then lower heat to a simmer & cover the pot. Cook until the beetroots are fork tender.
- I prefer using the box grater to peel the tomatoes instead of blanching them but you can use whatever method you prefer.
- I prefer to have the seeds in my sauce but if you want a seedless sauce, split the tomato in half, remove the seeds then grate them.
- Red pepper flakes add heat to the sauce. If you don’t have them, you can simply add chili powder (“shatta” in Arabic) if you want a spicy sauce.
- If you prefer a smoother sauce, you can blend the cooked sauce in the food processor to the desired consistency.