Last year was my first October Unprocessed. Knowing full well that I wouldn’t be perfect my first time round, I pledged to read the ingredient labels on everything I brought home for the market. The “kitchen test” is a great guide for starting out. I quickly realized how many ingredients I could never have in my kitchen were mixed into those familiar foods, and began having second thoughts about putting them on my table.
It’s not surprising that my label-reading practices carried on past October. I’m usually surprised at the chemical compounds (or whatever they are) written on the labels, but I’ve had one truly shocking “kitchen test” moment this year that I had to share. I usually make my own spaghetti sauce at home, but short on time one day, I decided to grab a jar of marinara sauce at the grocery store.
I reached for the store’s brand that they sell as higher quality. Hah! As I turned the jar over to check the ingredients list, I almost dropped the glass from shock. After the expected ingredients like tomatoes, salt, and garlic was pork gelatin! What in the world was that doing in my marinara sauce? I don’t have any dietary restrictions against pork, but why would one think a pork byproduct would be in simple, basic marinara sauce?!? I called my mom and screamed my disgust into the phone as I headed home to make my own marinara sauce forever and always.
This easy homemade marinara sauce is basic and simple. If you aren’t a big fan of garlic, you can opt to just flavor the oil or only add part of it back in. If you like garlic as much as we do, however, you’ll love this homemade sauce. We recently enjoyed it with crispy, cheesy polenta sticks!
Homemade Marinara Sauce
This easy homemade marinara sauce is basic and simple, however, you’ll love this homemade sauce.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic whole
- 2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes or 3 large tomatoes finely diced (see note)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Heat olive oil in large frying pan (not pot) over low heat. Add garlic. Heat until starting to brown and fragrant (approx. 5 minutes). Remove from pan. Let cool. Mince.
Meanwhile, pour tomatoes and liquid into bowl. Use potato masher to crush tomatoes. Pour tomatoes into frying pan after garlic is removed. Raise to medium heat. Mix in salt and oregano. Simmer sauce 15-20 minutes until thick consistency is reached. Add minced garlic to sauce after 10 minutes of simmering.
If using fresh tomatoes, you will want to simmer the sauce a little longer.
If you're using store-bought canned tomatoes, check the ingredients to be sure they pass the kitchen test. Or you could also can your own tomatoes!
About the Author
Luci Petlack is a lifestyle blogger with a penchant for denim, iced coffee, and homemade food. She’s a Doctor of History, a lover of witty humor, and a bit obsessed with Instagram. She blogs at Luci’s Morsels. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.
Nothing better than making your own sauce! I cook mine with a carrot, it reduces acidity. I also will simmer for 2-3 hours. One thing about olive oil from an interview with an olive oil expert, Dr Moerck by Dr Mercola: Extra-virgin olive oil is a good monounsaturated fat that is also well-known for its health benefits. It’s a staple in healthful diets such as Mediterranean-style diets. However, it’s important to realize it is NOT good for cooking. It should really only be used cold, typically drizzled on salads and other food. Due to its chemical structure and a large amount of unsaturated fats, cooking makes extra-virgin olive oil very susceptible to oxidative damage. However, during this interview I learned that extra-virgin olive oil has a significant draw-back even when used cold – it’s still extremely perishable! As it turns out, extra-virgin olive oil contains chlorophyll that accelerates decomposition and… Read more »
Pat, extra virgin olive oil is a mono-unsaturated fat. It’s the only heart-healthy oil which is in the same group as avocados and nuts. It can help with diabetes, high cholesterol, and is an anti-inflammatory. Cooking with extra virgin olive oil, is the only oil you should be using. It’s easily describe as freshly squeezed fruit juice without any chemicals. It can hold up in poaching, sauteing, marinating, baking, and frying without any damage. (Dr. Mary Flynn, Boston Univ.) Stay away from pure, and light olive oils and buy them from your local farm, natural food stores, or olive oil stores in your area. It must have a harvest date (not best-by date), and in a dark bottle, with labels indicating it’s been approved by state standards. But a small bottle because extra virgin olive oil lasts for only a year after opening. If you have nut allergies, the cheaper… Read more »
How nice to see a marinara sauce that does not include sugar. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against sugar in my diet. But if I am going to limit it to some extent I want to know where it comes from and don’t want it in my marinara sauce or sandwich bread (there’s a ton of sugar in both). Rather I want it in sweets (such as cake). When making my own marinara sauce (or just spagetti/pizza sauce) I now add carrots or roast the vegetables if I want it a bit sweeter.
As for salt. . . Reading the label on organic foods is a must! Yes, the ingredients will be organic, but the amount of salt and sugar added (not intrinsic) is amazingly high. Organic does not mean automatically healthy
I completely agree about hidden sugar and salt – you have to scour the labels. That was the first thing I noticed when I started looking for lowfat and nonfat foods. In place of the fat was a ton of sodium – not exactly the trade I was hoping for. And I’m right there with you on saving fat, sugar, and calories for dessert! It’s my M.O. and it keeps my love for food in balance!