The Slow Cooker: Family-style Winter Tomato Sauce

Sunday February 26, 2017

winter tomato marinara in the slow cooker

The tomato can be eaten raw or cooked, and taste perfect either way. One of the most common uses of the tomato is for tomato sauce. And there are dozens of essential tomato sauces from which to choose. The most famous of sauces are Italian and they are rustic preparations. Marinara sauce is a basic vegetarian tomato sauce.

The pinnacle of canned tomatoes is the gourmet San Marzano, which can be imported from Italy (certified with the Denominazione d’Origine Protetta, DOP seal of authenticity grown in Campania) or grown domestically. It is also a favorite heirloom home crop. The San Marzano is a type of plum tomato that has a thinner skin and is less acidic than Romas. Thus lies the secret of its famous flavor. I notice San Marzano canned whole tomatoes are easier to find on supermarket shelves.

The sauce is made by mixing crushed or diced tomatoes (canned or fresh) with sauteed onions or garlic and olive oil. It also usually includes typical Italian spices such as basil, oregano, and parsley, as well as salt and pepper. I make a wide variety of pasta sauces in the slow cooker. This is a family sized recipe for a long cooking marinara sauce. It is a pot of fabulous tomato wine sauce, that goes together in minutes using canned tomatoes, that simmers all day.

This recipe makes lots of sauce, so you must have a large slow cooker to make this recipe.

Serve over one of your favorite shapes: penne, ziti, radiatore, rigatoni, or conchiglie, accompanied by grated Parmesan cheese, crusty bread, antipasto, and green salad. It can also be used in baked pasta casseroles such as stuffed shells and lasagna.  Freeze in plastic freezer containers or quart freezer bags (so they can be stacked) up to 3 months.

even celebrities make all purpose tomato sauces...


Cooker: Large Round or Oval

Machine Setting and Cook Time: Low Heat: 8 to 10 hours

Makes 18 cups


6 (28-ounce) cans diced plum tomatoes with juice

1 1/2 cups dry red wine, such as Zinfandel or Chianti

3/4 cup olive oil

6 cloves garlic, minced, to taste

1 tablespoon sugar

1/3 cup shredded fresh basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves

3 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon chili powder

Freshly grated black pepper, to taste


Place the tomatoes in their liquid into a 6- or 7-quart slow cooker crock and crush with your hands. Add the wine, oil, garlic, and sugar; stir to evenly combine.  Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours.  About 2 to 3 hours before serving, add the herbs, salt, red pepper flakes, and chili powder. Recover and cook the remaining time. Use a hand held immersion blender to purée the sauce; you can leave it a bit chunky or make it very smooth.  Serve hot over cooked pasta, or cool to room temperature and freeze in batches.

freezer packs can be stacked for easy storage

Excerpted from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Entertaining, by Beth Hensperger an Julie Kaufmann. (c) 2007/2017, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.

Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2017

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.

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