Some time ago I came across a recipe for making pasta sauce in the crock pot. I then promptly lost the link because I'm organized like that. With yesterday being such a cold, blustery day, and with a kitchen stocked with the ingredients that I could remember being in the dish, I decided to give it a go.
First, I sauteed some chopped onion, carrots and celery in a small amount of olive oil until soft. I seasoned it with salt and pepper, dumped in a can of tomato paste and let that all cook together for awhile.
I used about 6 oz. of red wine and deglazed the pan. Then I let that all simmer together until it was thick and bubbly and smelled amazing.
While that was simmering, I put 3 cans of diced tomatoes and 2 cans of stewed tomatoes (all normal sized cans) into the crock pot. I dumped in the wine-veggie mixture, added two bay leaves and a healthy sprinkle of italian seasoning.
I stirred it all up, set the crock on low and left it to cook, about 6 hours or so.
The house smelled divine. My tummy growled all day long.
Because the sauce was all chunky with big pieces of stewed tomato and carrots, and because none of us particularly like chunky sauce, I used my hand held blender, stuck it right in the crock and blended it all up, removing the bay leaves first, of course.
I'm sure that is an optional step if you like chunky sauce, but it sure seemed to open up and smooth out the flavors. I poured in a bag of frozen meatballs (which I would have preferred to make myself but didn't have the ingredients on hand) just because My Man is a caveman-esque meat-eater.
I served it over whole grain rotini pasta, with a side of veggies and a slice of buttered french bread.
Though it filled my 6 quart crock about 3/4 of the way, I had just enough left to make Master's lunch today and that was it. It was a hit with everybody.
The wine gave it a very distinctly sharp flavor. Though it was really good, next time, I think I might try deglazing with broth and see if the flavor is a little more subtle. I'm also going to leave out the meatballs, or have them on the side. I thought they added too much grease cooking them in the sauce.
I can't tell you exactly what it cost to make the sauce because I had most everything in the kitchen already. But I'm pretty sure that for 5 to 6 quarts of pasta sauce, this was much cheaper than buying that amount pre-made. Plus, it tasted so much better than anything I've ever gotten in a jar.
Someday I'll work up to using whole, fresh tomatoes plucked straight from my garden. But I'm still just a baby in the kitchen. ;)