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Homemade marinara sauce complements perfect party

  • Published Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, at 6:49 a.m.

Marinara Sauce

Makes 1 3/4 quarts sauce

If this sauce is made in advance, cool it down quickly in an icy bath before refrigerating. It will taste even better if made a day or two in advance.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

1 cup beef broth

½ cup dry red wine

1 tablespoon dried basil leaves

2 teaspoons dried leaf oregano

½ teaspoon dried leaf thyme

1 bay leaf

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Heat oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Add onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until tender. Add remaining ingredients.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover the pot with a splatter screen or a lid slightly ajar so steam can escape and so the sauce will reduce. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Serve over freshly cooked pasta and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Culinary Concepts Inc. 2007

Parties are fun. Some are very elaborate with much planning; some require a caterer and entertainment with a specified dress code. Every detail must be planned for very formal events. Other types of parties are more spontaneous – the party seems to magically happen when friends gather. These often are the ones most fun and provide the memories we cherish.

Recently I hosted the latter type of party. I sent out an informal invitation to the group who joined me on my tour to Italy this past summer. As we began the tour, we were an eclectic group with the same itinerary, but as we ended the tour, we were friends. We had shared several days of traveling together, eating meals together, exploring a beautiful and historic area of the world and learning about the customs and culture of the region. That was the objective of the tour – we expected that. But we also found we enjoyed the camaraderie, the quick wit of some, the stories of others – in short, we became friends.

So I had my Tuscany friends over for a very simple Italian meal. Nothing fancy – just some homemade Italian meatballs in a zesty homemade marinara sauce with pasta, a great green salad and hot crusty garlic bread. Yes, very simple fare. But as we sat around a big table, savoring the food and a glass of Italian wine, the conversation flowed and laughter filled the room – reminiscent of our dinners in Tuscany.

The dinner was easy to make, but my guests were delighted. Often we think we must have the trendiest or the most expensive or the most unique menu. Not so. Some of the most memorable times are the most spontaneous – when you open your home and your heart to others and share a simple meal.

Often a really good sauce is what makes the dish. A jar of store-bought marinara sauce is handy to have on the pantry shelf for quick dinners, but homemade marinara is the best. With a pot of marinara sauce bubbling on the range, it fills your home with a wonderful aroma, with the promise of a great meal to come.

I’ve given you the plan for a fun spontaneous party – now here’s the secret for a really good marinara sauce.

Bonnie Aeschliman is a certified culinary professional who owns Cooking at Bonnie’s Place in Wichita. Reach her at bonnie@cookingatbonnies.com.

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