Grilled Spaghetti? Try this Fired Up Marinara Sauce

"Why aren't Italians famous for barbecue? The spaghetti keeps falling through the grates." Anonymous

2010-08-12-tomatoes.jpgIt is August and the world is awash in tomatoes. I am eating a tomato sandwich for lunch almost every day (with fresh basil of course). But our garden always give us more than enough so we make sauce. Marinara sauce is the great classic Italian tomato sauce from Naples (or maybe even from Spain, but don't say this too loudly in the wrong company or you might find a horsehead in your bed).

Marinara is the base sauce (or gravy as my Italian-American wife calls it) for spaghetti and meatballs, pizza sauce, and so many Mediterranean dishes. It is so easy to make, and it freezes well, so there is no reason to every buy it in a jar again. If you have a recipe that needs red sauce, you can make it a day or two in advance and keep it in the fridge.

So here's how you have some fun with your friends. Invite them over to a Grilled Spaghetti Dinner, watch them scratch their heads, and serve them this incredible grilled rich marinara sauce.

Makes. About 3 cups
Preparation time. About 90 minutes

2 pounds of ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
1 small onion, sliced in half
1 carrot, peeled
1 stalk celery, leaves removed
2 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

About the tomatoes. If tomatoes are not in season, use a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes.

Optional. Amp it up a notch with fresh hot peppers, a pinch of red pepper flake, chipotle powder, or hot sauce.

Do this

1) Preheat the grill to medium hot and when it is ready, clean the grates thoroughly. I know you don't clean the grates most of the time, but clean grates are very important for this recipe. Take the tomatoes and slice them in half. Roll a paper towel into a tight cigar and dip it into cheap vegetable oil. Swab the grill grates with the oil so the tomatoes won't stick. Put them on the grates, cut end down, for about 10 minutes or until they start to get some dark grill marks. Then roll them over and grill the skin side. Don't worry if they blacken a bit on the skin side. Remove them and let them cool until you can handle them and then peel off the skins. Chop them into 1/4" chunks. While the tomatoes are cooking, put the onion, carrot, and celery on the grill and roll them around until well marked. Remove them and when cool, chop them fine.

2) In a 2 quart pot or frying pan warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add everything except the tomatoes and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so it does not stick.

3) Add the tomatoes, turn the heat to medium low, and simmer uncovered for about 1 hour. If it gets too thick add a splash of red wine. If it gets thick again, add water.

4) Remove the bay leaf, taste and adjust the seasonings. If you like, a dollop of balsamic vinegar might be nice. You're done. The result is lumpy with those flavorful fire roasted veggies, and that's just the way it is. If you don't like that, you can whup it up in a blender or food processor or with a stick blender. Now pour your sauce over pasta, use it on pizza, in grilled eggplant parm, or on just about anything except ice cream.

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