Foodie Friday – Slow cooker marinara

I’ve tried to make a flavorful marinara sauce many times, but I never succeeded…until now! I think my biggest problem was that I didn’t let the sauce simmer long enough on the stove to boil off the excess liquid and let the flavors meld properly. So as it has so many times in the past, my Crockpot came to the rescue! I did a little prep, threw the ingredients in my slow cooker, and let it cook on low for eight hours. Pure genius. The resulting marinara sauce is thick, aromatic, and packed with flavor. Besides a whole heap of spices that make this marinara inherently Italian, I think the brown sugar and balsamic vinegar are the key ingredients. They make the sauce perfect. If you’re a carnivore you can add some cooked meat of any variety to this sauce for a yummy bolognese. But since there was a vegetarian at my dinner party last Wednesday I left it as is and absolutely loved it. I hope you’ll love it too. Note: The simplest preparation of this sauce is to just throw everything into the Crockpot, stir, and cook on low for about 8 hours. However, I added a few more steps for good measure. I’ll try it again sometime without the extra prep and see how it compares.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 c diced sweet onion (about 1 large onion)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 Tbsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less if you want)
2 cans (28 oz each) crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 bay leaves

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet, then add the diced onion and sautee for 4-5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and sautee for 1 minute more. Add the tomato paste, basil, oregano, parsley, Italian seasoning, thyme, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Toss the onion mixture into the bottom of your Crockpot (use a liner for easy clean up). Pour the crushed tomatoes over the top, add the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and bay leaves and stir to combine. Put the lid on the Crockpot and cook on low for about 8 hours. Remove the bay leaves before serving over some pasta, chicken, or whatever. Enjoy!

Based on Budget Bytes’s Slow Cooker Marinara.