This was one of those accidental recipes. I started out making the 5 Minute Marinara from Barefeet in the Kitchen because I needed marinara to go with my toasted cheese ravioli and didn't want to spend a lot of time on it. This is a recipe I had come across several months ago and was intrigued by, so it seemed like the perfect time to give it a go.
The recipe calls for 3/4 to 1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, and warns that the full amount yields a pretty spicy sauce. I thought 1 tsp was a good, safe amount. WRONG! I tasted it and it was really good, but just that one little spoonful was very spicy. The only other tomato products I had in my pantry were two small cans of tomato paste, so I added one along with some beef broth, thought it was still too spicy, so added the second can and more beef broth. At that point, it was still a little spicier than I'd prefer, but definitely bearable, and anyway, I was out of tomatoes. So I added the lemon zest and carried on with my ravioli.
Well, the tweaked recipe ended up being really good. My husband, who usually isn't fond of lemon in savory dishes, loved it and gave it a rating of 10/10. I think that's the highest he's ever rated any marinara sauce I've made. I thought it was excellent, too. Surprisingly complex flavors, rich, robust, and just really good. The lemon zest makes it perfect. The sauce does not taste like it was super quick to whip up and took 10 minutes (if you factor out all the fiddling I had to do) to make! We only used about 1/2 cup of the sauce total for our ravioli, so have quite a bit left over, but this will probably be my default marinara sauce recipe when I need something quick. I'll bet it would be great with ground beef added to make spaghetti, or with meatballs. I'm planning to make Chicken Parmesan Meatballs soon with some of the sauce, and am also curious how it will be on pizza.
Quick Note: I made this with 1 tsp red pepper flakes, but have reduced it to 1/2 tsp in the recipe below because that's how I plan to make it in the future. 1 tsp was still a little too spicy for me. Also, I chose to use a can of whole tomatoes and pureed it myself instead of the crushed tomatoes that the original recipe calls for. Whole canned tomatoes tend to be better quality than any of the other canned varieties, and they still have some nice texture when they're pureed.
Speedy Marinara Sauce with Lemon
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
28 oz can whole tomatoes with their liquid, pureed with immersion blender OR crushed with your hands
12 oz can tomato paste
2 C beef broth (or water, plus beef soup base)
zest of 1 lemon
additional salt to taste (I used 1/2 tsp additional)
Add olive oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and salt to a large, cold, nonstick skillet. Heat to medium and saute garlic, stirring constantly, until it's very fragrant and barely beginning to turn golden. Add can of pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, and beef broth, stir until smooth, and bring to a low simmer. Simmer gently for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, add lemon zest, taste, and add additional salt if necessary.
Yield: About 10 servings