How to Make Roasted Marinara Sauce

by Emily from Frugal Living NW on September 5, 2013

How to make homemade pasta sauce

Roasted Marinara Sauce

Sitting in a restaurant at the beginning of September, I overheard a waitress ask another customer, “How was your summer?”

He replied, “So far, so good.”

It made me smile. So far? Doesn’t he realize that school buses loaded with backpack-clad children are rumbling down the street as he speaks?

The more I thought about it, though, the more I had to agree with his present-tense assessment of summer. Despite the fact that school has started, early September really is prime summertime here in the Northwest. The days are comfortable and hazy. We start thinking less about travel and more about home. And our gardens and produce markets are bursting with fruits and vegetables of every shape and size.

Marinara sauce ingredients

This tomato sauce recipe features fresh produce that can be pulled out of your garden or piled into your grocery cart right now: tomatoes, garlic, onions, and basil. The tomatoes can be those sweet little cherry tomatoes or the big ugly fellas (who still have great personalities). Or a combination of the two.

Drizzle in some olive oil and a generous sprinkle of salt to round off the super simple ingredient list. Add a loaf of crusty bread and a fresh salad and dinner is served.

And the steps? They are so fast and easy. What? Are you rolling your eyes right now?

homemade marinara sauce

If making homemade tomato sauce calls to mind standing over a bubbling pot, stirring your afternoon away, think again. Other than piling all of the fresh ingredients into the pans, this recipe requires very little hands-on time. If you have a couple 9×13″ baking pans, a knife, and a blender or food processor you are good to go.

You can adjust everything to suit your own tastes. If you prefer a thinner sauce, bake just until the tomatoes start to burst and break down. If you like a thick, hearty sauce, then keep the pans in the oven longer, stirring occasionally. The ingredients will simmer down to a slightly sticky, sweet sauce. Once it’s pureed with the fresh basil, the sauce will be bursting with flavor and you will be swearing off store-bought sauce for life.

tomatoes

Up to your eyeballs in tomatoes right now? This is a great recipe to make in big batches and freeze for later use as pasta or pizza sauce or soup base. You can freeze it in containers or bags pressed flat to stack easily in your freezer.

This is definitely one of my favorite things to have stashed away in the freezer to create hot pizza, lasagna, or soup on those gray winter days. It instantly takes me back to the best days of summer. You know, September.

homemade spaghetti sauce

Roasted Marinara Sauce
The amounts listed in this recipe are just a good place to start.
Adjust the ingredients to suit your tastes.

8 c. cherry tomatoes or 24 medium tomatoes
2 medium onions, quartered
8-10 garlic cloves, peeled
olive oil
salt
basil leaves
1-3 cans tomato paste, optional

  1. Wash and stem the cherry tomatoes or wash and core the whole tomatoes. Split them evenly, in a single layer, between 2 9×13″ baking dishes. The larger tomatoes can be left whole; they will break down during the roasting process. Toss the quartered onions and peeled garlic cloves evenly between the two pans. Drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt.
  2. Roast at 425 for 30-40 minutes. The timing isn’t an exact science. The combination will smell incredibly fragrant, and the tomatoes and onions will look wrinkled, roasted, and slightly charred. For a thicker sauce, cook longer and stir occasionally to keep from burning. Remove the pans from the oven and set on the counter to cool for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Place a large colander inside a large bowl and dump the pans into the colander to strain out the juice. Set the juice aside.
  4. Scoop the tomato mixture into the bowl of a blender or food processor; add the basil leaves. Puree until it reaches the desired consistency. Dump the pureed tomato sauce into the reserved juice and stir until thoroughly combined. Season with additional salt, if needed. (You could also add tomato paste if you desire a thicker sauce.)
  5. Serve immediately as pasta or pizza sauce or freeze in plastic containers or bags for later use.

If you need more Italian inspiration, check out the Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes cookbook by Giada de Laurentiis.

Find more frugal homemaking posts here and a list of amazing recipes here.

This post may contain affiliate links. See the disclosure policy for more information.

{ 74 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne September 20, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Hi! this recipe is the best and sure beats the old fashioned cooking, straining and then running through the tomato press! My only regret is that I didn’t have any canned jars of this in the pantry. Do you know if this recipe would be suitable for canning instead of freezing? Thanks, Anne

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Jess September 20, 2014 at 7:17 pm

No, this cannot be canned. Because of the onions, garlic and oil, it is just not acidic enough for safe canning.

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Anne October 3, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Hi! I just got off the phone with the OSU extension / food preservation office and received safe guidelines for canning this recipe for roasted marinara. For those of you interested in canning, you must add to the recipe 4 TBLSP of bottled (not fresh) lemon juice. You must NOT add more than 2 TBLSP of olive oil to the roasting pan. Do not adjust the onion/garlic ratio, nor add any other vegetables to the recipe. Roast the vegetables as the recipe states, then puree the mixture out of the oven in a Cuisinart. Put pureed contents into a pot on the stove, and warm the sauce to a simmer. Simmer the sauce 10 mins, and THEN add the lemon juice. The OSU gal also said she would add 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar to the pot for flavor and an extra acidic boost. She then said we MUST process in a water bath: 35 min for pints and 40 min for quart size jars. This is a new length of processing time (vs. older recipes you may have), due to the fact that the engineering of tomatoes (both grown and store-bought), has reduced the acid levels of tomatoes drastically. Hope this helps anyone who may want to can their sauce! I’m making mine tomorrow! :-)

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Kate from Frugal Living NW October 3, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Thank you so much! Great information.

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Tina September 14, 2014 at 12:44 pm

I made this today. I am always wondering what to do with the abundance of cherry tomatoes I get every year. I added 1/4 cup of red wine before roasting this in the oven and I have to say this is the BEST marinara I have tasted. It could easily be a soup if you added some chicken broth and more salt. Next year I will plant even more tomato plants even though I thought about scaling back before I found this recipe!

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Kate from Frugal Living NW September 14, 2014 at 1:25 pm

We’re so glad it was a success!

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beverly September 2, 2014 at 7:52 pm

I made this recipe. Then put sauce back into oven to boil off more of the juice. ( thicker sauce). Then put it in pint jars and hot water bathed them fr ten min. After I baked the sauce the flavor was amazing. O ya I add a 3/4 cup brown sugar and some other seasonings:-)

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Tiffany August 19, 2014 at 2:46 pm

This is such a yummy sauce! My entire house smelled AMAZING while all the delicious veggies were roasting. I added a lot of basil and kept the sauce think by adding 1 can of tomato paste and none of the liquid. Next time I think I’d add even more garlic. Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks for the recipe!

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Londa January 20, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Could I can this? If so what times would you recommend it for? Thanks!

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Emily from Frugal Living NW January 20, 2014 at 8:14 pm

I’m planning to share the steps for canning tomato sauce next summer! You can’t can just any tomato sauce recipe because you have to watch acid levels (which you probably already know). I use Ball’s recipe for Basil-Garlic Tomato Sauce which is super similar to this one, though. It has you add 1 T. bottled lemon juice to each pint jar and process for 35 minutes. Pints are the perfect size for sauce on 2-3 pizzas!

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Anita November 18, 2013 at 7:33 pm

This is absolutely the best sauce I’ve ever tasted! I don’t typically love marinara, because it’s either bland or too acidic. This is deep, rich, roasted heaven. I never even thought of making my own sauce, but I’m a convert now. I only wish I’d made a double batch, so I’d have more to enjoy at a future date. I also love your nearly fool proof No Knead bread. I’m dipping a freshly baked slice into the marinara and am borderline giddy. :) Heartfelt thanks for all the great recipes and practical resources.

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Kate from Frugal Living NW November 18, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Oh my, I’m starving right now and that sounds SO GOOD!!

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Audrey September 28, 2013 at 10:13 am

Has anyone tried to make Tomato Bisque using this marinara recipe as a base? If so, what did you add?

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Emily from Frugal Living NW September 29, 2013 at 2:04 pm

I often use this as a base for tomato (or other) soups! The ingredients suit it perfectly. If I do tomato soup, I usually just add some chicken or vegetable stock and add salt, as needed.

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Renee September 14, 2013 at 5:11 pm

I tried this today and it turned out delicious. I strained out all the juice and kept it for winter soups. I wish I’d thought to add in some zucchini! Next time…and there will be a next time.

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Erin September 8, 2013 at 8:03 pm

I’m a novice in the kitchen and this turned out fantastic. My 3 yo tasted it and proclaimed, “It’s good!” I’m freezing both the juice and the sauce for use later on. Thank you for posting this easy recipe.

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Nichele September 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm

I used this recipe two years ago and canned all of it up. I did a large batch and it was very yummy. Even a year later ….. This year I think I will add some other veggies too to help with vitamins. thanks

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Guin September 11, 2013 at 10:34 pm

How much extra lemon juice did you use to can it? I think I’ve seen both 2 and 3 tablespoons per quart…

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Cheryl September 5, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Maybe my planter box garden will be better organized next year and produce more tomatos. I planted them too closely this year and didnt train them well. They are tall, but not as fruitful. Still, we are happy with out first year of a real box garden. Havent bought tomatoes for 8 weeks.

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charolyn September 5, 2013 at 3:12 pm

It is also great with eggplant &/or zucchini added in-whatever you have !

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shelly September 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm

My mom just brought over a bunch of homegrown tomatoes last night, and I hadn’t even finished the last batch she had given me. I was thinking I should look up what to do with them, and then I find this in my inbox today. Must be fate. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks!

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Guin September 5, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Do the tomato’s need peeled? or do they just get chopped up in the food processor?

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charolyn September 5, 2013 at 3:12 pm

You don’t need to peel them-one of the great parts of this recipe. I have been making it for about a year now & love it!!

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Lauren August 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm

This is my second year using this recipe and it turns out awesome. I add in sliced carrots to roast, and it gives the sauce a sweeter taste. I end up adding garlic powder to taste while blending. I also add about 1/8 a cup of sugar (for 5 cups of sauce). Using cherry tomatoes I do two pans at a time and get a total of 10 cups (I don’t drain the liquid). I freeze 2 four cups bags (for a batch of spaghetti) and a two cup bag for pizza sauce.

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Lucas August 13, 2013 at 10:44 am

I just finished making this pasta sauce. I now have 5 one gallon bags full of pasta sauce in my freezer. Had fun making chunky kinds of sauce as well as more blended bags. Varied the thickness of sauce by adding either no sauce to 3 ladles full back into the blender. Got chunky sauce by pulsing my blender only.

I am a 22 year old male and this was SO EASY!

Started with 15 lbs of tomatoes ($.99 lb) , 6 Onions, Basil (farmers market $4.95) and garlic.

Cooked before I went to bed. Turned off after 40 minutes. Let it stay in the cooling oven all night.

Got busy the next day so I left it in the oven for another day until I could get to it.

This morning I strained and bagged my sauce.

They are freezing flat as displayed in this post I found:

http://www.southernliving.com/food/how-to/how-to-freeze-and-store-soup-00417000075414/

My mother in law kept watching curiously over my shoulder for every step. MMMM was her verdict upon tasting COLD spaghetti sauce.

Thank you frual living NW for continueing to simplify my life and save me money.

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tanya March 12, 2013 at 2:13 pm

I drained the juices and reduced the juice to almost a syrup then added it back into the sauce with 3 sm cans of tomato paste and a few other tweaks and it is fab. It is nice to know what is actually in your sauces! thx

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Donna Becker March 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm

could the veggies be grilled? or smoked in a Traeger?

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kim October 5, 2012 at 5:24 am

I canned mine. Looked for a recipe that was almost identical. So used this recipie. Added three tablespoons of lemon juice in each quart and processed 40 minutes.

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Shelly September 29, 2012 at 5:29 pm

This is so good that I’m eating it by the spoonful right now. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to buy sauce from the store again.

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Lauren September 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm

After making this sauce four times in the past two weeks, I just thought I’d throw in my two cents worth on how I solved the issue of what to do with the extra liquid. I boiled chopped carrots and using the roasted liquid, pureed them and added them to the sauce. One batch I made it used up the entire amount of liquid, on another batch I had to add in some cans of paste to get it to the desired consistency. I’ve also added chopped up pieces of zucchini and roasted them along with the tomatoes, onions and garlic. Didn’t bother peeling them. The only thing I noticed that was different about adding the zucchini was that the flavor seemed more acidic/bitter with it in there. After adding in all sorts of Italian spices to no avail, we decided that it needed a bit of sugar. Sure enough, it made it taste perfect. With all the good home-grown veggies my family will be eating with this sauce, I’m not worried that they’ll be getting a bit of sugar along with it.

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Becky B. September 25, 2012 at 12:16 pm

This is literally one of the best things I’ve ever found on the internet. I was feeling overwhelmed by how many tomatoes were coming out of our garden (I know, a rough problem to have lol), and don’t always have the time to can (which I’ve been trying to do with the bigger ones). I can throw this in the oven, half forget about it, strain it, blend it, and rejoice that I just added a couple more tubs of the best marinara sauce I’ve ever tasted to my freezer with close to zero effort! AAAAAMAZING!

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Laurie September 14, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Thank you for this recipe I was wondering what I was going to do with all he cherry tomatoes we have. And this looks like a breeze to make.

Also can I Can this marinara sauce?

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Jessie D September 14, 2012 at 3:27 pm

No, you cannot water bath can this recipe due to e oil and lack of additional acid in the recipe. Check out this website for guidelines on canning tomatoes – http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can3_tomato.html

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Carrie September 23, 2012 at 9:27 am

My ball blue book says it’s fine to can as long as you add lemon juice.

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Just Me September 5, 2013 at 11:21 pm

I pretty much just use my pressure canner now days I’m so freaked out by getting sick. Is it safe to use it for this? I hope so because I already did it! I added a bit of lemon juice though to make sure. I have tomatoes coming out my ears! I have 8 different plants and they did awesome this year. This was such an easy way to make sauce and I want to make sure it will be okay with the pressure canning way. I have a garage freezer but it’s filled up with salmon, steelhead, pumpkin, and zuchinni right now so no room for freezing anything else this year. Well unless we get eating!! To make sure though how long is it recommended to boil it after opening to kill anything left behind??

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Jeanette S. September 14, 2012 at 6:53 am

If anyone knows how to convert this to canning, I would be interested!! :-)

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Lynda September 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm

I bet the leftover juice would be great to make rice! Mmmm

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Carol September 12, 2012 at 6:48 am

This is incredible. Has anyone tried making it with minced garlic?

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Emily September 15, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Yes, I am using bottled minced garlic this year, and it’s been a nice shortcut when dealing with multiple pans.

2 teaspoons = 1 clove so just decide how much you want in each batch and sprinkle it in your pans. Works (and smells) great!

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GIna August 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm

oh my!!!! The smell in my house is AMAZING!!!!

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Julie October 5, 2011 at 6:21 pm

I just made this sauce tonight, it is delicious. Like some said before, the sauce would have been to runny if I have added the juice. I am keeping it for a soup later on this week though, that precious juice is not going down the drain! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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Ann September 23, 2011 at 9:47 pm

I made this tonight and OMG it’s yummy. I only made 1/2 a recipe to try it out and it turned out great. I used a combo of Roma’s and grape tomatoes. Before I mixed the liquid back in I strained out the seeds. Totally pinning this one.

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Christina September 19, 2011 at 7:52 pm

I just made this today and it turned out really sweet. Does anyone have any ideas how to mellow out the sweet flavor??

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charolyn September 22, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Think it was the type of tomatoes you used-try using different types in different combinations. I also added zuccini and eggplant. Was really good!

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Amber H. September 28, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Mine came out really acidic & from everything I’m reading online it sounds like the tomatoes are probably the culprit. I added in a bit of honey & some extra salt. It still is a bit acidic but I don’t want to mess with it too much. Maybe I’m just not used to home-made marina sauce! LOL

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Carol September 13, 2012 at 7:55 am

Did you use aluminum pans when roasting your tomatoes? Tomatoes react with aluminum. Try it again using glass or ceramic baking dishes.

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Mia Marie September 10, 2011 at 9:37 pm

I just made this from our first harvest of homegrown black krims, and OMG IT’S AMAZING! Thank you, thank you for posting this exactly when I happened to need it! It was so good, I licked the blender, hahaha.

I only added half of the liquid back in, and had quite a bit left over, so I froze it and hope to use it as a soup base this fall- anyone else done this? Any other ideas? It was just too tasty, I couldn’t part with it.

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charolyn September 12, 2011 at 11:58 am

It would be great in soup-I was thinking the same thing. My Grandma and Mom are great soup makers-& they put all kinds of things in their soup. If you boil beets -that juice/water is great too-really from any vegetable-then you are keeping the vitamins.

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Erin B September 9, 2011 at 9:31 am

Do you puree the skins of the tomatoes or take them off after roasting?

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Emily September 9, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Nope! No blanching or peeling required. I guess they add to the texture/flavor of the sauce, but you really do not notice the peels after pureeing the tomatoes in the blender/food processor.

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Kristin September 8, 2011 at 5:12 pm

I just did this with some tomatoes that have been sitting on my counter for a week and were starting to get too soft! It’s delicious…and even if it weren’t I’d want to do it because of how lovely it makes the house smell! Thanks for the recipe…I’ll have to make bunches more this weekend.

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Julie September 8, 2011 at 3:39 pm

what fabulous pics! The sauce and process looks sooo yummy!

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Jodie September 8, 2011 at 1:46 pm

How long will this last in the freezer? Can you jar it as well? We just found a farmer locally who will sell us 60lbs of tomatoes for .60/lb and am so looking forward to making this recipe!

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Emily September 8, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Mine never lasts long enough! I’d say easily 6-9 months. After that you might notice a decrease in quality.

Here is some good info on canning tomato sauce: http://www.foodinjars.com/2010/08/canning-101-why-you-cant-can-your-familys-tomato-sauce/

It comes down to safe acidity levels with tomatoes. It is definitely possible. You just want to find a recipe that adds in lemon juice or vinegar.

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wynter September 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm

thanks, Em, I was wondering the same thing. I think I canned them last year, but only a couple quarts, so thankfully no one got sick. will definetely freeze this year!

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Ken September 6, 2013 at 11:40 am

I think that if you add one tablespoon of lemon juice to each pint jar you intend to fill, or two tablespooons for each quart jar, then fill the jars, seal them and immerse them in a boiling water bath for 40 minutes (water one inch above the jars), that should adjust the acidity so that you should be able to can this sauce.

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Tiffany September 8, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Jodie~ where are you getting your tomatoes? I’m looking for a place…

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Jodie September 9, 2011 at 9:23 am

This is the link where I found the tomatoes. Since we bought over 60lbs she gave us a deal.
http://portland.craigslist.org/clc/grd/2584073853.html

Good luck!

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Maegen September 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm

pat=part. Sorry-I’m trying to do this now, and I’ve got wet fingers.

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wynter September 8, 2011 at 1:37 pm

just the stem

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Maegen September 8, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Thank you, Wynter!

My kitchen smells soooo good right now!

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Maegen September 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Non-cook question:

Does coring mean taking out the seeds, or just the stem pat?

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Jessica September 8, 2011 at 12:46 pm

This is just what I need right now to use my veggies. Thanks so much!

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Jill September 8, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Wow…this receipe sounds wonderful. I will have to try it sometime!

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charolyn September 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm

This sounds easier & quicker than the pot boiled method I use.
I also like to put eggplant and zucchini in my sauce-the zucchini because at this time there usually is lots of it and the eggplant really adds to the taste I think. Another added benefit-if it is puried all together my son will like it and then eats all these vegetables, he otherwise wouldn’t like! For myself-I like it chunky also. Sometimes I will also mix it 1/2 & 1/2 with canned sauce-I like the sausage type and then I have some meat too.

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Emily September 8, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I’ve also added carrots and peppers before. This is currently the only way my children will eat vegetables…

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charolyn September 8, 2011 at 9:16 pm

It does make you feel good to know they are getting such a nice variety also!
By the way the pictures are beautiful-as I have all the ingredients in large quantities right now, think I will make some soon. This is very motivating (thanks-I can use that)!

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Melody September 8, 2011 at 12:02 pm

I basically just made this same recipe, but used the crock pot. I think my taste buds almost revolted, there was so much flavor. How will I ever go back to store bought??

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Traci September 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Melody, Can you share how you do it in the crockpot please? I would much rather do it in there then on the stove or oven.
Thanks.

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Melody September 8, 2011 at 7:56 pm

I just followed this recipe: http://onceamonthmom.com/marinara-sauce-a-la-seaton/

Very similar flavors to Emily’s, but I was able to leave it in the crock pot while we were gone all day. I added several diced green peppers and used fresh tomatoes (blanched, peeled and seeded) instead of canned.

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Leah M. September 8, 2011 at 11:10 am

This is our second summer making this recipe and we often don’t add back in the drained liquid. It’s too runny for our taste if we add it all back in. AND it still tastes wonderful! Just a FYI. ;-)

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Emily September 8, 2011 at 2:14 pm

My husband likes a thicker sauce, too, but I can’t bear to toss all that flavorful liquid. So I usually just cheat and add 3 cans of tomato paste. :)

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Allie March 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm

I do not add back the juice since we like thicker sauces. However, I do freeze the juice separately and add it to vegetable beef soup. Yum.

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Bri August 10, 2013 at 12:08 pm

I’ve made this a few times, and if I do drain the juice off I save it for soup as well. (I made it once with only cherry tomatoes and there was no draining needed!) No way I’m throwing the flavor packed liquid out, and it’s a great supplement to broth that freezes great.

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