Since pasta is a staple in my diet, it only makes sense that marinara sauce would be as well. I'm particular about mine, there can't be too many tomato chunks, but other chunks are fine (carrot, celery, etc). And I like it garlicy. The jars at the grocery store are fine (actually the Shaw's "Wild Harvest" brand is quite good), but it's actually really easy to make at home. And, as you may have noticed by now, I think that things you make at home are better than things you buy in cans.
I'm pretty sure if you asked 100 Italian grandparents, you would get 100 different recipes for marinara sauce. However, I don't have an Italian grandparent to ask these things of, so I went to the next best source, Giada. I know, I know, her teeth are out of control and the accent she uses on the word pasta may actually make your ears bleed, but, you can't act as if her food isn't amazing.
The first several times I made this, I followed her directions to the letter. But, as you continue to cook, you begin to learn how to tailor recipes to your personal taste, which is what I have done with this. Here is the original recipe, if you'd like to check it out.
Marinara Sauce a la Milton:
1 Large (28-32 oz) Can of Crushed Tomatoes
2-3 Stalks of Celery
1 Medium to Large Onion (I used a white one, but it doesn't really matter)
2-5 Cloves Garlic
1 Bay Leaf
Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion, a healthy dose of salt and pepper, and cook until the onion is mostly translucent and soft. This should take 5-8 minutes.
Next, chop the carrots, celery, and garlic. I didn't end up using garlic in this batch because I had the tomatoes that are pre-seasoned with galic, basil, and oregano, so it seemed superfluous. Add them to the pot with more salt and pepper, and cook until all the veggies are soft, another 8-10 minutes. You can check by picking out a piece of carrot or celery and seeing how done it is. This is, overall, a matter of personal preference, so just go with what feels good.
After all the veggies are nice and soft, add in the tomatoes and a bay leaf. I only had one can of tomatoes and it was too cold to go back to the store, so mine is fairly chunky, but if you'd prefer to just have hints of celery and carrots, then use two cans of tomatoes. There's no wrong way to make this, you're not going to mess it up. Promise.
Let it simmer for 45 mintues or so, until it looks like you think it should look. Taste it and make sure that it doesn't need anything else, and if it does add that in. Make sure to pick out the bay leaf before you store/serve it; they add amazing flavor to the food, but biting into one is disgusting.
See, wasn't that easy?! It will keep for at least 2 weeks in the fridge, and essentially forever in the freezer. Much better than the jars and it makes you feel like a real cook. Good luck, let me know how it goes!!