I've always wanted to try marinara sauce in my crock pot and I surfed around looking for the perfect recipe. This one caught my eye because it included two of my favorite ingredients that many of the other sauces did not include. Balsamic Vinegar and Brown Sugar! I was not disappointed, this sauce will darken and caramelize the flavors as you cook it over a long period of time. It was excellent. I served mine with a browned butter and mizithra cheese pasta kind of like my own "Managers Special" at Spaghetti Factory. It was AMAZING! Enjoy this recipe from Budget Bites with my notes.
INGREDIENTS 2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes (I used whole and then pureed my sauce at the end) 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste 1 medium yellow onion 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic (3 cloves fresh) 2 whole bay leaves 1 Tbsp dried basil 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano 1 Tbsp brown sugar 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar to taste salt & pepper
STEP 1: Cut the onion into a small dice and mince the garlic (or use pre-minced garlic from a jar). Place both in the slow cooker. Also add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, bay leaves, basil, oregano, and freshly cracked pepper. Stir well to combine. If your slow cooker tends to lose moisture and dry things out, add 1/2 to 1 cup of water as well.
STEP 2: Secure the lid on your slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hrs. (I read from other websites that some people prefer to cook their marinara with the lid off, so I did about half and half. I guess when you leave the lid on, the marinara can get watery.)
STEP 3: Remove the lid on the slow cooker, stir the sauce, and remove the bay leaves. Season with salt to taste (I added about 1 tsp). Enjoy over your favorite pasta! (I also pureed my sauced at the end with an immersion blender to give it that smooth consistency.)
Now how easy was that? You can also try adding other ingredients like sliced mushrooms, Italian sausage (cook separately and add to the sauce after it has cooked), crushed red pepper, olive oil (for a richer sauce), bell peppers... the sky is the limit.