How to make Authentic Italian Marinara
When teaching the “Mother Sauces” I always start with my favorite, and probably the one I use the most Marinara Sauce, which got its name from the sea or Mariner’s Sauce.
Wikipedia says “Cooks aboard Neapolitan ships invented marinara sauce in the mid-1500’s after the Spaniards introduced the tomato ( a New World Vegetable) to Europe. This meat free sauce was easy to make and resisted spoiling due to the high acid content of the tomatoes. This made it ideal for lengthy sea voyages hundreds of years before refrigeration methods were invented. “
Now in Italy you will usually hear it referred to as Salsa al Pomodoro, as Marinara refers more to a specific pasta dish. Traditionally Marinara was a quick sauce, something prepared aboard ship with their limited resources, it should be bright red and cooked just long enough to cook the tomatoes. It is a very fresh sauce. (That being said there are as many family Tomato sauce recipes as there are Italian Families, mine is just one passed on to me.)
Now I have to admit that I rarely make a classical Marinara, but more of a cooked tomato sauce, I do like to start my sauce at home with a little sweet sausage. When Mama Jeanette taught me the secret to good tomato sauce she used pork bones for flavor and simmered her sauce for at least 3 hours. This is still my favorite type of sauce, slow cooked allowed to build flavor.
Mama Jeanette would let me have some the when it was finished the first day, but her rule was to let it set for 24-48 hours before serving to guests, that way the flavors would really develop. When I make Tomato Sauce at home, we do eat it the first day, but I let it set 2-3 days before freezing the remainder( I usually use 2 #10 cans of tomatoes when I make the sauce at home).
Feel free to not add any meats to keep the sauce vegetarian. Even if you go the no meat route, allow the sauce to cook for about 3 hours if possible, but if you want a quick fresh sauce let it cook as long as you want to.
When making your tomato sauce look for San Marzano Tomatoes. They are less acidic, and have a great flavor, coming from the Pompeii area of Italy.
It’s also very easy to turn your tomato sauce into a Vodka or Blush sauce. Personally, I do not like the flavor of vodka in my sauce, it doesn’t really add anything to the sauce. The only addition to make it a great rosa is sauce is heavy cream and Romano cheese. I have even substituted Greek Yogurt for half of the cream, you almost can’t tell the difference!
- 4 cloves fresh garlic chopped
- 2 28-32 oz Cans Crushed Tomato San Marzano
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- 1 small onion finely diced
- 1/2 cup Olive Oil
- 1-2 teaspoons sugar
- Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
- 32 oz Tomato Sauce
- 16 oz Heavy Cream use light cream or a combination of cream and Greek yogurt
- 1 Cup Grated Romano Cheese
- In a large skillet or small sauce pot, sauté diced onion and chopped garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent, do not allow them to burn!
- Add crushed tomatoes, rinse cans with just a little water and add to the sauce (if crushed tomatoes are not available use whole tomatoes and crush by hand or with an immersion blender).
- add chopped basil, sugar, sea salt and black pepper to taste (don’t over season you can always add more later).
- After your sauce has reached a boil, reduce the heat to low, a simmer for 15-20 minutes for classical Marinara / simmer for 1-3 hours for a rich hearty Tomato Sauce.
- add in cream, and grated romano cheese to the marinara. mix well and allow to simmer until hot.