Marinara sauce is my go-to sauce for pasta and pizza. This recipe is a slow cooker adaptation of my original, family favorite, stove-top marinara sauce explained in a previous post. With a few tweaks to my original recipe, this easy sauce gets even easier in the slow cooker. Toss everything in your Crock Pot, let the flavors develop slowly throughout the day or overnight, and you've got an amazingly flavorful pasta or pizza sauce for dinner.
Healthy, vegetarian, and versatile. This sauce is made of good quality, healthy ingredients. It can be used as is, or it can easily be used as a base to which you can add other favorite ingredients like sauteed onions, mushrooms, spinach, peppers, or any veggie of your choosing. Browned ground meat or crumbled meatballs can be stirred in to convert it to a meat sauce.
Eat it now, can it, or freeze it. When I have the freezer space, I make a double batch of this sauce and freeze it in pint jars. It is so convenient to have on hand! The base recipe (without any meat or additional veggies) is also safe and suitable for water-process canning--another good way to keep this sauce on hand and have available for gift-giving. You'll find printable jar labels further down in this post.
Nutritional Information. This sauce is good for you! It is especially high in potassium, manganese, and vitamins A, B6, C. Per 1/2 cup serving:
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients.
Step 2. Mince the garlic. Use a knife, a garlic press, or a mini food processor--pictured below.
view on Amazon: mini food processor (I use my mini processor so often that it's the only appliance I leave out on my limited kitchen counter space--I love this little multi-tasker.)
Step 3. There are two options for "sweating" the garlic before adding it to the slow cooker: (1) On the stove top, saute the minced garlic in olive oil until soft; (2) use the speedy prep tip I learned from The Slow Cooker Revolution: add the garlic and oil to a microwave proof bowl, cover, and microwave 60-90 seconds until sizzling and softened. Ready in a flash! (I used the 2nd easy method with a Pyrex measuring cup and silicone cover--pictured below.)
Step 4. Drain the liquid from the canned tomatoes into the slow cooker. Remove the tomatoes from the can one-at-a-time; make a fist around the tomato and squeeze it through your fingers as you add it to the slow cooker. This results in irregular chunks of tomatoes, lending the sauce a rustic appearance and texture. (If you prefer a smooth sauce, mince the tomatoes with a knife or puree them in an electric blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender.)
view on Amazon: my favorite slow cooker (top rated by Cooks Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen)
Step 5. Add the garlic/oil mixture, wine, vinegar, tomato paste, dried herbs, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper, give it a stir, put on the lid, and cook on low 5-8 hours.
Step 6. Stir in chopped fresh basil and parsley and your sauce is ready to eat!
Step 7. Taste the sauce and add more salt, to taste, if needed. You can also add a pinch of sugar to the sauce to add a hint of sweetness to balance the acidity of the other sauce ingredients. The addition of sugar is a personal preference thing--with or without, this sauce is great!
Is your sauce too runny? To thicken it, remove the lid, turn the slow cooker to high, and continue to cook until enough liquid has evaporated to result in the consistency you want. I don't normally do this, but some people prefer a thicker sauce--another personal preference thing.
Want meatballs with your sauce? Immerse frozen meatballs in the sauce in the last 1.5 to 2 hours; the exact time will vary depending on how many you add. If the meatballs are already thawed, they will heat up in 30-60 minutes in the heated sauce. If you'd like to make your own meatballs, here's my popular Italian meatball recipe--it's a winner! I make a big batch of meatballs and freeze them. With marinara sauce in the freezer, I'm always ready for a quick spaghetti and meatball meal.
This rustic, chunky sauce tastes amazing! It's so easy to make and have on hand, that you may never need to buy jars of sauce at the store. It's all you need to transform a plate of spaghetti into a spectacular meal.
It also makes a perfectly seasoned pizza sauce.
Eat it. Freeze it. Can it. This sauce can be eaten right away. It also freezes really well--either in freezer-safe jars, plastic freezer containers, or Ziploc bags. I've used all three freezer methods. I label my freezer jars with blue painters tape, because it's inexpensive and adhere's well but is easy to remove without leaving a residue behind on the lids.
I often make a double batch of sauce while I'm at it and freeze or can some to have later. If my freezer is full, I can my leftover marinara sauce. I explain how in my post, Step-By-Step Canning Tips. It's more work to can the sauce, but an advantage of canning is that the jars are shelf stable and can be stored at room temperature. That makes it easy to store and have on hand to use or to give as gifts. I've made some labels to jazz up the jars for gift giving.
To use the downloadable tags:
If you don't have a printer or specialty papers, you can have a store with printing services download and print them for you (Kinkos, Office Depot, Staples, etc.)
Cut with scissors or a circle punch. You can cut the round tags out carefully with scissors, or use a circle punch to make the task easier and more precise. I use a 2-1/4" circle punch; it fits both regular and wide canning lids.
view on Amazon: 2-1/4" circle punch (this fits mason jar lids)
Click on the image below to download & print a full sheet of labels.
My family loves this sauce, and I love how easy it is to make!
Make it a meal! Spoon this marinara sauce over pasta and serve it with these recipes for a complete and loved Italian meal.
Make it a Yummy day!
Make pasta in the microwave FAST without the hassle of a big pot of boiling water. I was skeptical about cooking pasta in the microwave, but read rave reviews of this gizmo from Cook's Illustrated's Home Test Kitchen. They were right! This clever, inexpensive container makes it SO EASY to make pasta without the hassle or mess of the traditional stove-top method. I highly recommend the Fasta Pasta!