How to do decent marinara sauce without any fresh herbs or other ingredients?
So I chopped up an onion and four or five garlic cloves, fried them in olive oil, immediately threw in four mildly spiced Italian sausages, sprinkled in some kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper, then sauted until toasty brown. I didn't have ground beef or pork, so I tossed in a large eggplant, peeled and diced. An Indian college roommate back in Michigan taught me how to cook eggplant--if you cook it the right way, it looks and tastes like sweet pork fat. Emptied two cans of tomato paste, three cans of water (or the paste cans filled with water three times), all of the remaining Chianti (about half a can, not much), two tablespoons of brown sugar for that "I don't know what, but it's good" quality, some dried basil and a lot of dried oregano. Tore several Kraft cheddar slices into the mix (learned to tear them lengthwise, so they'd melt easier when you mix), then, in lieu of a fresh basil hit, spooned the last of the remaining bottled pesto we bought from the supermarket into the sauce. Now THAT smelled and tasted like fresh leaves, just chopped and dropped into the sauce, with the added bonus of crushed pine nuts and a bit of parmesan into the bargain. Not bad at all.