Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Turkey Marinara

It's such a pleasure to make one's own marinara for pasta.  With only a handful of well-chosen ingredients that can be found at just about any grocery store, a most delicious sauce can be made in less than one hour.  Within that time you can make a salad, set the table, pour the wine and have the pasta boiling so that you and your guests can eat well.  


Usually, I make a marinara that's simply garlic, tomatoes and olive oil which is simmered for about half an hour.  If I decide I want to add more flavor I throw in some finely chopped onion, perhaps some basil and some chili flakes for kick.  It all depends on what I'm craving that particular day and who will be eating this tasty sauce.  For an even heartier marinara I add ground turkey and simmer it for a good forty five minutes until it thickens.  Really & truly, anyone can make a good marinara.

All that is left to decide is which type of pasta to use for the sauce.  More often than not I use a form of spaghetti for my marinara, but if I want a tube pasta I reach for a box of penne, ziti or even rigatoni.

Since I don't really measure the ingredients, I'm going to give you approximate amounts.  In addition, I'm going to let you in on what I'm doing differently with my sauce.

The Ingredients
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (approximately 1/2 cup), optional
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz. (227 g.) ground turkey (I use dark meat turkey)
  • 26 oz (750 g.) boxed tomatoes, chopped
  • olive oil for sautéing
  • salt & pepper
  • optional ingredients: chili flakes (to taste), fresh or dried basil, oregano, pecorino romano 
Servings: enough for 1 pound of pasta.

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat (add chili flakes now if using) and add the onion.  Cook, stirring often, for about 3-4 minutes so that the onion softens.  If you’re using dried herbs add them now.
  2. Add the garlic and stir for about 1 minute.  Salt & pepper to taste.
  3. Add the ground turkey and break it up.  Stir & brown the meat, breaking it up so that it doesn’t clump.  Salt & pepper generously.
  4. Pour the chopped tomatoes into the pot and stir well.  If you’re using fresh herbs, add a few now.  Bring the sauce up to a simmer, lower the heat and cover with a lid.  
  5. Let the marinara simmer for approximately 30-45 minutes.  You want it to thicken and be flavorful.  Stir it from time to time while it simmers.
  6. Add it to your favorite pasta.

In the summertime you can certainly use your garden's tomatoes to make a fresh marinara.  Trust me, it's delicious, but let's face it, many of us can't wait until summer to enjoy a rich marinara.  Before you reach for a can of plum tomatoes, think twice.

In the past few months I've stopped using canned tomatoes entirely and have now made the switch to aseptic-packed tomatoes.  A good friend of mine (hi Mally!) told me about the BPA, GMOs & preservatives lurking in canned tomatoes.  It then dawned on me that I could easily remove these harmful ingredients from our diet here at home.  I bought a box of these boxed tomatoes to see if I noticed a difference.

There was a BIG difference.

Right away, I noticed a more pronounced tomato flavor without any bitterness.  What's more, these boxed tomatoes were simply that: tomatoes. No acids, preservatives, salts or certainly BPA could be found here.  Quite honestly it came down to two things: getting rid of harmful chemicals for me & my family, and getting great-tasting tomatoes for my marinara.  

I couldn't be happier having this peace of mind now.  Look for them when you're at the supermarket and buy a box.  Try them and see if you notice any difference.

I will never go back to canned tomatoes again.  Ever.


When you make this turkey marinara, have a good red wine for your guests (if you wish) and have lots of grated pecorino romano or parmesan waiting at the table.  It's comfort food at its best.  I guarantee people will be asking for seconds.  

Enjoy!

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