Cooking with Mom: Pizza-Style Marinara Sauce

Do you ever tear out a recipe from a magazine? I subscribe to several, mostly on cooking, so I have stacks of recipes. It’s embarrassing really. Sometimes it takes me an hour to find a recipe that I know I have. Combing through the myriad of loose papers always brings giggles from my mom. “Here she goes again,” she’ll say. This amuses her because, actually, I am not fond of using recipes – having to look at directions and measurements messes with my creative flow –  but I appreciate their inspiration, so I read them as a poet reads other poets’ work – for form, content, style, etc.

I keep saying that one day I will sort all those torn out pieces of paper into appetizers, salads, pastas, various meat dishes and desserts, but for now if I find one I’ve tried, and  really, really like, I put it in a sheet protector and transfer it into a three-ringed binder (which is sectioned into food categories). It’s not a big binder. Recipes have to be excellent and non-fail before they make it in. It holds my “go to” recipes – the ones I often refer to when I am making a menu plan for guests. Of course, I will share them with you over time!

I tried a new recipe this week – Chicken with Pepperoni-Marinara Sauce.  It caught my eye in Cooking Light because it called for pepperoni, which … you guessed it … I had left over in my fridge from making homemade pizzas a while back. The recipe called for chicken cutlets, which I used and didn’t like – too dry! And no real taste! I am a thigh and leg person. Yes, the meat is higher in fat but it has flavor – so I say, just cut the portion size a bit if you are counting fat and calories.

Anyway, all was not lost because the pepperoni-marinara sauce was fantastic, with a few Plynn adjustments, like sliced mushrooms and fresh herbs. Next time I make it I think I’ll add sliced black olives, maybe a little crumbled sausage or green pepper strips. Just like pizza – after the pepperoni (it’s the pepperoni that gives this sauce the wow factor for me), add what you want!

Try this easy sauce. There are so many ways to serve it – over chicken, eggplant, even a nicely grilled steak … or spoon over spaghetti squash, pasta, rice. It’s that good.

This revised recipe is definitely going into my 3-ring binder.

Plynn’s Pizza-Style Marinara Sauce

A very small round of olive oil

3    cloves of garlic, minced

15 – 20  pepperoni slices

6    mushrooms, cleaned and sliced to desired thickness

1    teaspoon of freshly chopped oregano (or ½ t dried)

1    teaspoon of thinly sliced fresh basil (I used a teaspoon of basil oil due to the demise of my fresh basil in a recent frost)

2    cups (or more) of your favorite, jarred marinara sauce (I like Trader Joe’s, but used Costco’s Kirkland Signature this time and it has a lovely fresh taste … of course if you are ambitious you could make your own marinara …?)

Pepper to taste

Shredded mozzarella or Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup for sprinkling or 1 cup for covering – see italics below)

In a large sauce pan, at medium to medium low heat, add the round of oil and minced garlic, cook 2 minutes; add  pepperoni slices and mushrooms; cook another 2 -3 minutes; stir in oregano; add marinara sauce and heat thoroughly. Stir in the basil and season with pepper.  Sprinkle grated cheese over individual servings of your accompaniment of choice.  Tah-dah!

Some Options:

Option 1:  If you use the sauce with meat you can brown the meat in another ovenproof pan (or transfer the browned meat to a baking dish). Pour sauce over the meat, cover with mozzarella and put in a 375-degree oven for 20 minutes; then set oven to broil approximately 5 minutes to bubble and brown the cheese.  Serve with pasta or rice, or maybe steamed broccoli?

Option 2:  Mix the sauce with al dente pasta, put in a baking dish and cover with cheese. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes; then set oven to broil until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.  Yums!

Oh, by the way, if you blushed a bit when I mentioned tearing recipes out of magazines … say, in the doctor’s office waiting room … trying to be nonchalant, coughing to cover the ripping noise, things like that … save your embarrassment!  Just take a picture of the recipe with your cell phone. Works like a charm.

Eat well, be happy!

Author: Plynn Gutman

Plynn Gutman is a certified coach with a refreshing and holistic approach to achieving an Integrated Life. Specialized retreats, workshops and classes are all a part of Plynn’s wide array of resources that she offers along with useful life lessons, tips and advice through her blog. A writer at heart, with several titles available, Plynn's variety of work appeals to everyone.

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