Tag Archives: marinara sauce

Basil Garlic Marinara Sauce (Crock Pot)

I am very passionate about my sauce ! My Italian Grandma and Mom taught me well 🙂 I have been making my own since I was 16 and over the years developed a recipe that is LOVED and CRAVED by many. That recipe included cooking sausage and meatballs in the sauce – and that gives it a very rich flavor. But it also adds calories. So in my quest to keep things lower cal, I’ve been trying a few batches of sauce without meat and this one is really, really good. It comes quite close to my regular recipe !

I’ve added beef bouillon to make up for some of the lost flavor from the meat, I’ve added roasted garlic which gives a great depth of flavor (much different than dropping in raw or sautéed garlic) and I make sure to use tomato paste. Tomato paste is to tomatoes what lemonade concentrate is to lemonade – – it is highly concentrated and adds a different flavor than any other tomato product out there. And finally I add 2 secret ingredients – shhhhhhh ! Fennel and anise seeds add the flavor you would get if you cooked sausage in the sauce. It is the finishing touch that so many sauces are missing. You only get the slightest hint of taste of the seeds in the finished product. But let me tell you, without them, the sauce is just not the same.

If you’ve never tried sauce before – try !! This one starts from canned products, not raw tomatoes – so it is NOT labor intensive. And even a bad batch of homemade is better than a jar of Ragu 😉 It’s what makes a pasta meal special, so do it up !

Basil Garlic Marinara Sauce
Basil Garlic Marinara Sauce

12 servings
58 calories per serving

8 cloves roasted garlic, minced
2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
¾ c water
1 T oil
2 t basil flakes
6 basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1 t oregano flakes
½ t red pepper flakes
½ t garlic powder
½ t onion powder
½ t whole anise seeds
1 t whole fennel seeds
2 packets or 2 cubes beef bouillon
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ c parmesan cheese

Mix all ingredients in a crock pot, cover and cook on low 8-10 hours or high 4-5 hours.

You can also put this in a pressure cooker for 20 minutes or simmer stove top for 2-3 hours.

The length of time does make a different – the sauce tastes much richer when simmered for hours than a quick sauce (which have their place in some recipes, but don’t equal a traditional slowly simmered sauce).

Freeze your extra portions and next time it’s pasta night, just defrost in the frig over night and quickly reheat in a sauce pan.

Let me know how you like it ! 🙂

Inside Out Stuffed Peppers

These are more delicious than regular stuffed peppers – the cream sauce mixes in with the meat and rice so beautifully – every ounce is coated and it makes for a super creamy taste sensation.

Inside Out Stuffed Peppers
Inside Out Stuffed Peppers

6 servings
311 calories per person

1 lb. lean ground turkey
2 green peppers, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 c cooked brown rice or even use a chicken or beef flavored rice mix for extra flavor
16 oz. jarred marinara sauce
1 c shredded low fat mozzarella cheese
1/4 c cream cheese cooking creme (I used Philadelphia tomato and basil flavor)
1/4 c chopped basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown meat, peppers, salt and pepper in a large skillet. Add in garlic during the last minute of cooking. Drain and add rice, sauce, 1/2 c mozzarella and cream cheese. Mix well and spoon into a 2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 c mozzarella and bake 25 minutes.

Pesto Lasagna (Crock Pot)

The layer of pesto mixed with spinach and mushrooms adds an incredible layer of flavor and also bulks up the recipe with more nutrition. This is a FANTASTIC lasagna recipe – lots of cheese, lots of flavor and the perfect comfort food.

Pesto Lasagna (Crock Pot)
Pesto Lasagna (Crock Pot)

8 servings
395 calories per serving

4 c spinach, chopped coarsely
3 T water
2 c sliced mushrooms
1/2 c prepared low fat pesto
3/4 c shredded low fat mozzarella cheese
3/4 c shredded provolone cheese
15 oz. fat free ricotta cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 c grated parmesan cheese
25 oz. bottle marinara sauce
8 oz. tomato sauce
Salt and pepper
½ t garlic powder
9 oz. (12 noodles) no bake lasagna noodles
1/4 c packed basil leaves, chopped

Place spinach in a glass bowl with 3 T water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave 3 minutes to wilt. Squeeze it dry in a colander then mix with mushrooms and pesto. Mix mozzarella, provolone, ricotta, ¼ c of parmesan and egg. Mix marinara sauce and tomato sauce with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Spray an oval crock pot with Pam. Place 1 c sauce in the bottom then place 3 noodles on top covering the bottom of the pan. Add 1 c of cheese and 1 c of spinach. Then start the layers again – – add sauce, noodles, then cheese and spinach. Finally end with a layer of noodles and spread the rest of the sauce over the top. Sprinkle with ½ c of parmesan and basil. Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours.

Baked Ravioli

This is a rich, delicious dish. The whole ‘ravioli splitting in the boiling water’ hazard is gone and this is something you can put together ahead of time and then bake just before serving. Very easy, very convenient and very good !

Baked Ravioli
Baked Ravioli

8 servings
355 calories per serving

28 oz. jar marinara sauce
25 oz.package frozen cheese ravioli
2 c shredded no fat mozzarella cheese
2 T grated parmesan cheese
1 c sliced mushrooms (fresh or canned)
9 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry in a colander
½ t salt
½ t pepper
½ t garlic powder
½ t onion powder

Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 13×9 pan with Pam. Spread ¾ c sauce in bottom and arrange ½ the ravioli in the dish. Top with the spinach and mushrooms and then sprinkle with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. Top with half of the remaining sauce and 1 c mozzarella cheese. Add another layer of ravioli, then the rest of the sauce. Finally add the rest of the mozzarella and then sprinkle with parmesan cheese and cover and bake 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes until hot and bubbly. Then let sit 15 minute before serving.

Chicken Parm with Pasta

This is one of my favorite dishes, but the restaurant version will kill you with calories. This one has been lightened up quite a bit – it comes in at only 324 calories and that includes a generous side of pasta (thanks FiberGourmet!!)

Chicken Parm with Pasta
Chicken Parm with Pasta

4 servings
324 calories per serving

4 4 oz. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c bread crumbs
¼ c parmesan
½ t garlic powder
½ t oregano flakes
½ t parsley flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ c shredded low fat mozzarella cheese
½ c marinara sauce for chicken (Paul Newman’s is good)
1 ½ c marinara sauce for pasta
2 T parmesan
6 oz. FiberGourmet penne, fettucicine or rotini pasta

Preheat broiler. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with Pam. Mix breadcrumbs with ¼ c parmesan cheese. Mix herbs and spices. Rinse chicken breasts in water and then sprinkle with herb mix before dipping in breadcrumbs to coat. Press crumbs into the chicken so they stick well. Lay chicken in pan and sprinkle with any remaining bread crumbs.

Broil 6 minutes, turn and lightly spray the tops with Pam (so they will brown nicely) and then broil another 6 minutes. Meanwhile cook pasta according to package instructions. Heat 1 ½ c sauce (for pasta) in microwave or on stovetop. When pasta is done, drain, mix with sauce and sprinkle with 2 T parmesan cheese.

Remove chicken from oven and cover with ½ c sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Turn off broiler and turn oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken back in oven 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melty.

Eggplant Pizza

This one really hits the spot ! I spice it up a little by adding crushed red pepper flakes 🙂 Don’t like eggplant, then substitute tomato slices. But be sure to give this one a try.

Eggplant Pizza
Eggplant Pizza

4 servings
295 calories per serving

1/2 c marinara sauce
1 10 oz. Boboli (precooked pizza shell available at all food markets)
1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into thin slices
1/2 c part skim ricotta
2 T parmesan cheese
2 T thinly sliced basil
Dried oregano flakes
Onion powder
Garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread sauce on Boboli. Sprinkle with a little dried oregano flakes, onion powder and garlic powder. Top with eggplant slices and drop ricotta by tablespoonfuls evenly over the eggplant. Bake directly on oven rack 12-15 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and parmesan right when it comes out of the oven.

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