The other day, as I was brainstorming a hearty dinner of Roasted Red Pepper Veggie Burgers, Mother Cookie made the unfathomable suggestion that we buy some frozen French fries to go on the side. Can you believe it? I wanted to make fresh homemade veggie burgers, and she had the audacity to suggest frozen French fries to accompany them!
I did not agree to the fries, but I did agree to make an easy side to pair with our burgers: Simple Secret Ingredient Marinara & Penne. Why was this recipe so easy? Because the sauce has less than 10 ingredients, and I utilized the juices from the roasted red peppers in the burgers. Pretty crafty, eh?
The red pepper oil is my secret ingredient. It adds this savory, zesty dimension to the sauce that makes you say, “Mm, what IS that?” It’s robust enough that it infuses into every bite, but subtle enough that it’s not outright peppery. You’ll find your tasters clamoring to know what gives the sauce its flavor.
It only takes a few other ingredients to create a sauce that’s both sweet and tangy. I use those must-have San Marzano tomatoes for their great flavor plus fresh oregano. My boyfriend said this show-stopping sauce was good enough to drink from a thermos.
People assume a good marinara sauce has to have 17 herbs and be cooked low and slow for an entire day by an Italian grandma. But this sauce will show you that someone with little cooking experience can whip up an absolutely incredible sauce that’s loaded with flavor in under 30 minutes.
A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:
- This sauce is also great as a dipping sauce or in lasagnas and bakes.
- You can make this sauce ahead of time then let it simmer on low as long as you like until you’re ready to eat.
- If you don’t have an immersion blender, puree the San Marzanos in a regular blender before adding to the pot.
- You can use any brand of peppers, just make sure it’s the kind that’s jarred in oil, NOT water.
Simple Secret Ingredient Marinara & Penne
By The Smart Cookie Cook
- All oils & juices drained from 2 12-oz. jars of roasted red peppers in olive oil
- 1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- 28-oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
- 6-oz. can tomato paste
- 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
- 2 tsp. Nectresse or sweetener of your choice
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- 1 lb. penne pasta
- In a large pot of salted water over high heat, cook pasta according to box directions. Drain.
- In a large pot over medium heat, saute the onion in the oil for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, San Marzanos, tomato paste and oregano and stir until evenly combined.
- Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
- Mix in the sweetener, salt and pepper. Serve over pasta with more fresh oregano or parmesan.