this Roasted Tomato Marinara recipe at my mom's from her copy of the November 2010 issue of Cooking Light. We loved it and were sad to have just now found it. When I went to go find it on the website to make it myself at home, I found that the ingredient list was the same, but the directions seemed slightly different somehow. None of the helpful tips were included. As I looked at the page I noticed that the recipe had a horribly low rating, 2 or 2.5 stars, and when I checked the reviews, I saw that no one was having success with this recipe.
I feel bad saying this, but those people are dumb. Really, they are. Now, mostly I feel bad because I was that dumb once. But I've since learned that YOU CAN CHANGE A RECIPE! You don't have to follow it to the letter. I've kept all the same ingredients and their proportions, with the exception of less water added, and I prefer to salt and pepper to taste. What I'm doing differently that makes this, to me, a 5-star recipe, is all about the method.
Let's keep the ingredient list the same. Now, the new steps:
1. Blanch and peel the tomatoes. Then halve them and squeeze some of the seeds out and put them in a bowl. Toss with the basil, oregano, sugar and olive oil as in the original directions.
2. Roast them at 450* until some of the edges start to darken. You can take them out after 20 minutes, minimum, but longer is better (if you're able to watch them closely).
3. Smash them up if you like a chunky sauce, or puree them in the food processor for a smoother sauce. I was doing double and triple batches, so I was able to use an immersion blender.
4. Follow the instructions for cooking the onions and reducing the wine as written in the original directions.
5. When you add the tomatoes, add half the recommended amount of water (about 1/3 cup for each batch). Simmer for 15 minutes or longer until the sauce is a consistency you like. Salt and pepper to taste instead of using the amounts provided.
6. Let the sauce cool - you can refrigerate it overnight if you want - and ladle 2-cup portions into labeled freezer bags. We found it easiest to line a tall measuring cup with a bag and add a little extra, above the 2-cup mark, to compensate for the space taken up by the bag.
I made six times the recipe this way, yielding about 27 cups of sauce. Sure, it took me three agonizing days - that's what 24 pounds of tomatoes will do to you - but it results in something delicious. Those reviewers need to loosen up, take a step back, and adjust based on their needs. I'm surprised I'm able to do this - I wasn't always - but it makes cooking infinitely easier on a person.
Marinara is a great staple to have on hand. The first time we made it, we used some as a diavolo sauce, adding shrimp and crushed red pepper flakes. You can use it in lasagna, eggplant rollatini, etc. You can use it with spaghetti and meatballs. There's a lot you can do with it, and as I use up my 27 cups this winter, I'll try to add some more ideas.