I started making this marinara over the summer. Now, you don’t have to start that early. I was processing the home-grown summer tomatoes before they went bad. This is a great way to use up all those tomatoes. But, if you don’t have any home-grown tomatoes, or if you want to start this in the winter, use canned tomatoes , they’ll work perfectly.
It was too hot to cook the tomatoes inside, so we started them on the grill. I cut each in half and put them in a large ovenproof casserole dish. I don’t bother to peel them before hand either. As they cook down, the peels come off and float to the top. When they do, fish them out with tongs, a slotted spoon, or your fingers (watch out, it’ll be hot!).
I cooked the tomatoes down to about half of what was there to begin with. Let them cool, and then I froze them. A few months later (or just a couple days ago) I decided to use the cooked down tomatoes in marinara. And, this is a great marinara sauce! It’s so easy because it’s done in the crock-pot. Also, the sauce is really budget-friendly (even cheaper if you use tomatoes from the garden!).
I used ½ a red onion and ½ a sweet yellow onion (because they were in the fridge and needed to be used up). Any onions will work in this recipe. Also, I actually didn’t add any salt to my marinara. I’m still doing the super healthy food, so I’ve eliminated most salt from the stuff I cook. But, I do think the sauce would benefit from salt. Leave it out entirely if you want, the sauce is still great.
We had the marinara over simple spaghetti last night with some meatless meatballs. Tonight I’m going to make little individual pizzas using this marinara as the pizza sauce. And, over the weekend I think I’ll make Red Pepper Lasagna on our cheat day.
I don’t think I’ll have to worry about using up all of this sauce, but it makes a large amount, so you may want to can it or freeze it to preserve it. If you’re going to freeze it, allow it to cool before placing it in the freezer. If you’re going to can it, while it cooks, prepare (get out and make sure they are squeaky clean) the jars you’ll use to store it. Transfer cooked sauce to the clean & ready jars. Please follow the instructions from the USDA’s National Center for Home Food Preservation, the official site from the makers of Ball jars, or the makers of the Weck Jars.
Homemade Crock Pot Marinara Sauce
Minimally adapted from Budget Bytes
Makes 13 (½ cup) servings
8 cups crushed tomatoes or 2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 whole bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried basil
½ tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt, if desired
freshly ground pepper
Place all ingredients in the slow cooker. Stir well to combine. Secure the lid on your slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or high for six hours. Stir the sauce and remove the bay leaves. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt and some freshly ground pepper as desired.