Going to let y’all in on a little secret… I’m kind of lazy. I enjoy gardening and making things from scratch, which can be a lot of work. Sometimes, you just gotta find an easier way for things. I’ve found a lazier way of making marinara! You just need a slow cooker and an immersion blender, plus your ingredients. I love this method because this way I don’t heat up the house (our outside kitchen area is not ready yet) and I don’t have to babysit the sauce to avoid a scorched pot!
4-5 pounds tomatoes
basil or other herbs you’d like to add
First, peel your tomatoes: boil some water in a medium pot (large/deep enough to submerge tomatoes) and add your tomatoes to the boiling water, a few at a time. Once you see the skin start to split on the tomato, ladle it out and put it in a bowl or sink filled with icy cold water. I usually add some ice cubes to the water as well. Once your tomatoes have cooled down enough to handle, simply peel off the skin by hand.
Roughly chop your tomatoes, green pepper & onion and any other veg you’d like to add, and mince the garlic. Plop it all in your slow cooker and turn the heat on high. Add any herbs and spices you’d like. I typically add at least basil & a couple of bay leaves; this leaves the sauce basic. I don’t add salt or pepper until I’m preparing a meal. Leave the lid slightly askew to allow steam to escape – this way the sauce cooks down and thickens. If all your tomatoes do not fit into the slow cooker, no worries – put them in an airtight container and place them in the fridge. Once the sauce cooks down a bit, you can add the rest of the tomatoes if you like. Or, you can chop your tomatoes and put them in a freezer bag, and stick them in a freezer. Dethaw and use later to make more sauce, toss into chili, add to soups, and so on.
As your sauce cooks down, give it an occasional stir & a taste. My slow cooker isn’t very powerful so it took about 12 hours on high, and another 8 hours on low, to get the sauce cooked down to my liking. If you have a ton of tomatoes, you could probably use a tabletop roaster oven, too.
Once the sauce is thick enough and the veggies have disintegrated, turn the cooker off and remove the lid to allow the sauce to cool for a while. Then, CAREFULLY use an immersion blender to blend the sauce to your liking. We like our sauce a little chunkier so I didn’t blend it completely smooth. One of the detriments to using an immersion blender is every once in a while you’ll accidentally cover the kitchen with sauce. This is why I suggest letting it cool down before using the immersion blender! You can also ladle it into a standard blender and mix it up that way. You can use a food mill, too, but I’ve found that it makes the sauce too smooth for our liking.
And there you have it… lazy girl marinara! I usually make about 2.5 quarts of sauce this way. I divide it up into quart freezer bags and lay them flat in the freezer. Once frozen, the sauce stacks nicely. Once a batch is used up, I’ll simply dethaw a few bags of frozen, peeled tomatoes and make another batch!