3 14 oz. cans of diced or fine diced tomatoes
(Note- fresh tomatoes are wonderful, but not all of us have them all the time, and of course, not all want to go to the trouble of blanching tomatoes, getting the skins off and chopping them) Make sure the canned ones do not have added sugar- some do! I use Diane's Garden brand- It is really good, and there is not so much liquid compared to tomatoes.
1/4 cup finely diced bell peppers
1/4 cup of finely diced onion
1 medium carrot grated- approximately 1/2 cup grated
1 Tablespoon of basil dried- if using fresh chiffonade the basil and use 3 Tablespoons added at the last few minutes of cooking.
3 cloves of garlic minced very finely
1 small stalk of celery very finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar- regular cider vinegar will work if you don't have balsamic.
Salt and pepper to taste- be careful adding salt, as most canned tomatoes have it. Get the sauce going and cooking a bit before adding salt- always taste in advance- can't take it out once in!
3 tablespoons olive or canola oil
In a saute pan (skillet- whatever you have), heat oil; Place garlic, onions, peppers, carrots and celery into the oil and saute until the onions are becoming translucent- gently please- you do not want to brown anything, especially garlic, which can become bitter!
Remove from heat and place in a sauce pot large enough for all the tomatoes; add tomatoes and dried basil. Simmer till it has thickened to marinara or pasta sauce consistency ( you want no watery tomato juice in it). Taste for salt and pepper. Add if necessary. The carrots become almost invisible. Remember to add the chiffonade of fresh basil during the last ten minutes of cooking time for best flavor. That's it- takes about 1 1/2 hour. Freezes very well. I now (since I'm alone,) freeze in individual portions.
Note- if making spaghetti or lasagna, I add oregano, Italian parsley and rosemary and a touch of Splenda (about 1/2 packet.). I like to keep the sauce frozen in basic form, so I can do what I want with it when I use it.