Somewhat successful… Crockpot spaghetti/marinara sauce

I usually use jarred spaghetti sauces when I’m making pasta; they are simple, often tasty, and have a great consistency. However, with a few quarts of tomatoes canned, I wanted to see how my own tomatoes fared in a sauce. The answer was… okay?

Basically, I got home from work and we wanted to go for a run. I’m running a 6 mile race in two weeks (!!!) so I’m feeling the pressure to practice. I wanted to start on dinner though, so I lugged out the crockpot and chopped onions to put in the bottom while it heated up. I added oil, lots of herbs and spices, and tons of powdered garlic. Once it started to smell nice, I added in a quart and a bit of my canned tomatoes, the ones that didn’t have lemon juice in them and thus have been living in the refrigerator. Then we went to the gym and stopped by the grocery store, all of which took about an hour.

The sauce still looked pretty soupy when I got back, so we did all the things we needed to do: put away groceries, threw some fettuccine on to boil, browned some ground beef to add for substance. I pulled out cheese to put on top, Husband set the table and, despite being on high, the sauce was still just.. thin. I took my stick blender to it, hoping that some of the tomatoes, which were nearly whole when they were canned, would smooth out into a thicker sauce. We heated up some baguettes with garlic on them in the pan where we browned the meat, making some nice toasty garlic bread. The sauce was indeed more consistent, but still had a lot more water than needed. We were very hungry after our run (I ran 43 minutes! So crazy for me, who used to quit when I had run 6 or 7 minutes.) so we decided to proceed.

In the end, the sauce was delicious – well flavored, very tomato-ey, but had pooling edges of water outside the piles of pasta. If I had it to do again (and I probably will next week), I’d put the tomatoes, spices, oil, onion, etc. in the crockpot in the morning and give them all day to meld and really break down, as well as evaporate off a little. The meal was wonderful, especially because we were quite hungry, but there’s always room for improvement.

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11 comments on “Somewhat successful… Crockpot spaghetti/marinara sauce

  1. Chloe Edges says:

    Cornflour (cornstarch). Simples.

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  2. Homemade sauce is always awesome no matter what but sometimes I do use marinara sauce from a jar. Marinara has a lot less sugar than pasta sauce and tastes fresher I think. I agree-cornstarch works or you could try some parmesan cheese or a little instant mashed potatoes. I’m sure it was delicious 🙂

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  3. Sounds most delicious! Another useful thickener is potato flour, which I often prefer to cornflour. Generally I try to reduce the liquid on a high heat. Perhaps turning your crockpot on early would work best, but transferring to a saucepan to reduce the liquid would work, too, if you don’t mind the extra washing up.

    Congrats on running. Can’t even imagine that after a day at school.

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  4. I’ve found that even with my tomato sauces that I’ve boiled down by half before canning they still get a little watery. It helps some to finish cooking the pasta in the sauce (When I do lasagna I just leave the noodles uncooked). Adding tomato paste (or did you ever dehydrate any tomatoes?) would also help to thicken.

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  5. I would have never thought of trying marinara in the crockpot. But never say never…

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  6. Just soak it up with that baguette 🙂

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  7. I usually throw in a little dried parsley. It soaks up extra moisture, adds a little color, and doesn’t affect the taste.

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  8. It sounds and looks great! – Adding some oats can soak up some moisture without adding flavour. And well done for the run – keep it up 🙂

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  9. foodinbooks says:

    I’ve found that adding some of the starchy water that the pasta (or potatoes) have cooked in helps emulsify and thicken the sauce. The suggestion about finishing cooking the pasta in the sauce is also another good tip.

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  10. Ladybuggz says:

    I have a real small crock pot and have been making my sauce in that lately, I use onions, garlic, green peppers, spices and put the thawed beef before the large can of plain diced or chopped tomatoes, let it cook for 6 hrs on low and Do Not Puree! Serve on your fav noodles! If doing it on the stove in a hurried night, I might thicken with a bit of plain white flour..just cook an extra 15 mins. to get the starch flavour out! 🙂 Lb.

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  11. Was thinking about this ‘sauce thickening’ post a couple of nights ago. I quickly braised a couple of chicken breasts in my small Kuhn Rikon pressure braiser. Along with the usual suspects, and some Cajun spice rub, I decided to add some of my dried golden courgettes from last summer.

    I had dehydrated some sliced, and the rest shredded. We haven’t so much enjoyed the sliced ones rehydrated, so I ground some in a mill and added them straight to the pan before adding wine and kecap manis. When cooked, to my surprise, the courgettes had really plumped up and thickened the sauce, but resembled a cracked grain. If I hadn’t known it was courgette, I would not have recognised it. The sauce was lovely. I shall experiment with that again!

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