Marinara Sauce is mainly used for pasta, but it can also be used as the basis or complement for many other dishes like lasagna, vodka sauce, fried calamari and veal parmigiana among others. Since making fresh marinara sauce is so easy, you have no excuse to make it homemade every time! Many of you might think I am crazy, but give it a try. Its so light and tasty and fresh that I haven’t bought a commercial marinara sauce in years (well… maybe once. Ja!).
Marinara derives from the italian word “marinaio” which means from the sea or sailor. From what I have read, it was often served to sailors in Naples with pasta as a welcome back meal from fishing or travel. Of course this was after the Spaniards had introduced tomatoes to the European diet from the New World. It does not necessarily include fruits of the sea, but you can serve with sauté shrimp or add anchovies if you like. Sometimes, I like to add a few pinches of red pepper flakes (peperoncino) to make the spicy sauce for penne all’arrabiata (my favorite!!!!). I always keep in my pantry canned whole peeled tomatoes so that I have at hand “in case of emergency”. They are so versatile! I like the sauce to be “chunky” so I crush the tomatoes with my hands, but if you want the sauce to be more liquid and uniform you can pureé the tomatoes in a blender before adding to the sauce pan. With “chunky” sauces like this one or bolognese, I use penne pasta, bucatini or any pasta with texture and/or holes so that the ingredients in the sauce fill them up and you get an explosion of flavor in every bite. With white or creamy sauces I like to use flat and/or long pasta or filled pasta. These are just suggestions and what I usually do, but nothing is written on stone; you can serve as you like.
Here is my recipe for Marinara Sauce. Enjoy!
This recipe is for about 1 pound of pasta (4 cups of penne) and serves approximately 6 persons.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove of garlic (minced)
1/4 cup of white or yellow onion (finely chopped)
1/4 cup of carrots (peeled and finely diced)
2 cans of whole peeled tomatoes (14.5 oz each)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp of kosher salt
pepper to taste (for cooking the sauce and when serving)
4 or 5 fresh basil leaves (chopped)
1. In a medium saucepan, head extra virgin olive oil (med-low) and add onions and carrots. Sauté for about 5 minutes.
2. Add garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes.
3. Add hand crushed tomatoes (or puree tomatoes in a blender if you want the sauce more liquid than chunky), oregano, salt and pepper. Cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
4. Add basil and cook uncovered for about 5 minutes or until desired consistency has been reached. Add to pasta. Mix well and serve immediately with fresh grated parmesan cheese. (If preparing as a complement for another recipe, store in refrigerator until ready to use.)