Some things are just a hundred times better when made from scratch – including whipped cream, ice cream and marinara sauce. Last week, I made a big batch of homemade marinara, full of carrots, celery and tomatoes with some bay leaf for flavor. A couple days later, I added it to a pot of shallots, rosemary, tuna (I used yellowfin tuna packed in olive oil – it is a million times better than the albacore, water-packed variety, trust me), parsley, lemon zest and capers. Served piping hot over a pile of linguine, it was one of the the more delicious weeknight meals I’ve made in a while.
Basic Marinara Sauce
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 (32-oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves
1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Cook until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Taste, and adjust seasonings.
Tuna and marinara sauce with linguine
3 cups Marinara sauce
2 (6-oz) cans tuna packed in oil, drained (get the good stuff if you can find it)
1 Tbsp. drained capers
1 tsp. grated lemon zest (about half a lemon)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper, plus more to taste
1 lb. pasta of choice (rigatoni or large shells work well)
Freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)
1 tsp shallots, rosemary (optional)
1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite.
Meanwhile, combine the tomato sauce, tuna, capers, and lemon zest in a heavy large skillet. (If you opt to add shallots and rosemary, as I did, add those to the skillet first thing, so they can infuse the sauce with some additional flavor.) Using a fork, break the tuna into chunks. Simmer to blend the flavors, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
2. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Toss the pasta with enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Stir in the parsley and serve. If you’re in the mood, dust with some parmesan.