I am a sucker for anything Italian. Growing up, it was the one meal I always wanted on my birthday. Spaghetti and meatballs. Lasagna. Something Italian. Anything Italian. And it's something that I enjoy cooking myself at home. In fact, spaghetti and meatballs was one of the first meals that I made for Mr. T. But, honestly, I'm not big on canned or jarred sauces. Something about it just doesn't feel right. It's like putting ketchup on steak. You're ruining it! The good thing is that making your own pasta sauce is actually pretty easy. I know that it sounds daunting, but, trust me, it's anything but. Here's how to make your own homemade pasta sauce in the crockpot.
- 3-4 big cans of tomatoes -- I don't use sauce or puree, I use the actual canned tomatoes that are peeled. You can obviously use fresh tomatoes, but there is way more prep involved.
- Italian seasoning or oregano
- Garlic powder
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped or minced
- Parsley, optional
- 2-3 small cans of tomato paste, might be optional
What to do:
- Put tomatoes in blender or food processor and blend until almost smooth. Then put in the crock pot. I usually put just the tomatoes and not the juice since also using the juice makes it soupier and you'll really have to thicken it later. I also like to use the food processor because then you can get it smooth (or keep a few chunks if you like. I don't), but it isn't a soupy liquid. You want the tomatoes to fill the crockpot almost to the top. As a rule, I like to leave a little to work with.
- Add garlic and a strong layer of the rest of the seasonings. I used both fresh garlic and garlic powder because I like the way it tastes with both of them. I don't know why, but usually if I only use one it just doesn't taste right to me. You're free to just use fresh or powder if you want.
- Cook on low setting for 6-8 hours, checking after about 3-4.
- You want to check it so you can taste it to be sure that you have the right blend of flavors. Sometimes I find it tastes too garlicky or too oreganoey (is that a word?). If that happens then just add whichever flavor doesn't seem strong enough.
- You also might find that it's a bit too soupy. If that's the case then add some tomato paste to thicken it. I've also added a little grated parmesan cheese and/or some seasoned bread crumbs to thicken as well. Just be careful not to add too many as it could alter the flavor.
I usually do this the day before I want to eat it just to make sure that it gets cooked really well. That also gives me a day to cook the sauce with any meat I want to use. I don't usually add the meat until after the sauce has been cooked because I really want to develop the flavors. I also find that Mr. T and I get a good three-four meals out of one crockpot full of sauce so I will use it for a variety of things. It keeps in the fridge for a while, but you can also freeze it or can it (I haven't tried to can it yet, but that's next!).