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Marinara Sauce (from scratch)

*Marinara Sauce* (serves approx. 10)

        For when you're feeling ambitious, a marinara from scratch.
Although it looks like a long recipe, all the necessary chopping can be done
in a food processor, making it surprisingly quick and easy.  This recipe is
easily halved, or doubled.
        A very robust red sauce with texture, and a nice depth and
complexity of flavour.  Easy to prepare; freezes excellently; extremely low
in fat.  This sauce is thick and chunky, and needs a substantial pasta to
hold it.

2 cups yellow onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped (green and yellow will lend some colour)
2 medium stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup carrot, grated
2 T basil
2 T dried oregano
2 T dried thyme
1 cup dry red wine
8 cups ripe tomatoes, chopped (peeling and seeding not absolutely necessary)
handful sundried tomatoes, slivered
2 large jalapenos (veins and seeds removed, eliminating the heat)
2 T broth powder, or equivalent cube (chicken-flavoured recommended)
6 - 14 garlic cloves (depending on your personal garlic fervor)
2 cups mushrooms, chopped or sliced
        (portobello, cremini, shiitake, porcini, or just white/button)
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 t salt, or salt-free seasoning
fresh cracked black pepper
6-oz. can tomato paste
1 T sweetener (brown rice syrup, barley malt syrup, even maple syrup... 
        or honey, if you're not vegan)
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley

        In a dutch oven, saute/ the onion, peppers, carrot and celery in
your favoured saute/ liquid for two minutes.  Add the herbs and wine, and
cook until the bulk of the wine has been absorbed.  Add the tomatoes,
jalapeno, and the broth powder/cube.  Simmer 40 minutes, keeping an eye on
it and stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic, mushrooms, vinegar, tomato
paste, salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.  If the sauce
is acidic (which will depend on the ripeness, quality, freshness and
interplay of the other ingredients), add the sweetener to balance it out;
otherwise the bell peppers and carrots lend enough sweetness.  Stir in
parsley just before the end of the cooking.
        Cooking note: you can simmer this all day, if you wish, to draw out
the flavours in amazing depth (a crockpot works well for this - just
transfer it at the stage you'd add the parsley).  In this case, save the
garlic and parsley until 10 - 30 minutes before the end of the cooking, as
they will lose their assertiveness over a long simmering.

Optional additions:     1/2 small cauliflower, steamed
                                (added with the tomatoes)
                        2 - 4 t cayenne or other hot sauce
                        3/4 t fennel seed, added with the herbs
                        2 t toasted cumin seed, for a southwestern twist
                        calamata olives, pitted and chopped
                        1/8 - 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, for a cheesy flavour
                        1-oz. dried porcini mushrooms, 
                                along with their (strained) soaking liquid

Substitutions:          instead of fresh tomatoes, equivalent canned
                        instead of wine, 1/2 cup weak broth mixed with 1/2 
                                cup cider vinegar and 1 T fresh lemon juice
                        instead of dried herbs, fresh, added just before 
                                the end of cooking