Monday, August 4, 2008

Monica's Marsala Mushroom Marinara Sauce

Makes about 8 cups

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 small onions
2 chopped garlic cloves
3 cups assorted mushrooms, finely chopped (such as cremini, oyster, portobella, shiitake, or baby bella)
1 cup marsala
1 - 14.5 oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 - 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 Tablespoon garlic powder
5 chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 tablespoon oregano
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
sea salt to taste

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat, add the onions and garlic and saute until translucent (about 10 minutes). Add the Marsala, then add the mushrooms and cook until they are soft (another 8-10 minutes). You can use any type of mushroom, but I urge against using the white button mushrooms because their mild flavor won't contribute to the rich flavor of the sauce. Once the mushrooms are soft, add both cans of tomatoes and the other seasonings except the salt. Stir together and bring to a slight boil over medium heat and stir for about 5 to 7 minutes.. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for an hour letting the sauce thicken and absorb the flavor. Taste about a half hour into it and add salt if needed. When finished remove the bay leaves and serve over Baked Polenta, Spaghetti, Shells, or whatever your heart desires.

Delights and Afterthoughts:
One of my first loves in life was spaghetti with meat sauce. I would eat this at least once a week growing up and would cook it in batches because it was always so easy to make and eat all week. I got very good at making this, and although I never actually made my own marinara sauce, I was very good at adding to to it and flavoring it. I would always buy Ragu Chunky Tomato, Garlic, and Onion pasta sauce (which is vegan by the way), and add ground beef. It was so simple, but now that I am vegan, I needed to come up with a recipe to emulate this sauce.
Although I love the Ragu sauce, I wasn't about to use it on my recipe site. I want my recipes to be totally authentic and homemade, so this was my chance to create a marinara sauce that could resemble what I am used to, and versatile enough where I can change it for other recipes.

I couldn't have been more happier with how this sauce turned out. The mushrooms take on the 'meat' consistancy, but also add to the unique flavor of the sauce. I originally made this sauce to top the Baked Polenta with Herbs, which made a heavenly combination. I didn't need to add the salt because I felt like the mushrooms and marsala added enough flavor, but it's up to you. I ended up freezing over half of the sauce in batches, and I can't wait to defrost and eat over spaghetti or shells. YUM!

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