At the core of Italian cuisine is a simple, basic Red Sauce which is used in a plethora of ways – as a base for other sauces, as a component of other dishes, and as a condiment for baked and fried bread-based dishes. I speak, of course, of the one and only Marinara!
Classic Marinara is little more than bunch of fresh, red, ripe Plum Tomatoes, hand-squished to remove the skins and seeds, and simmered slowly over medium heat to concentrate the inimitable flavour and texture. Traditionally, Garlic, Herbs and Onions are added. I like to add just a little plain White Sugar (to take the edge off the naturally-astringent Tomato flavour) and a nice shot of Balsamic Vinegar to bring all the other flavours together.
You can use Canned Tomatoes if you wish. As I’ve said elsewhere in this space, canned is actually better in some cases than fresh, especially when you can’t get nice Tomatoes where you live, or would have to settle for supermarket Tomatoes which are usually hard, under-ripe, and weak on flavour. And the canned approach is also a labour- and time-saving one!
Marinara is probably most recognizable as the traditional sauce for pasta, garnished with fresh Basil leaves and Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese. But it’s also used on Ravioli, Manicotti and other dishes served with red sauce. And it’s the red stuff in Lasagna’s Meat filling layer. And it’s most welcome as a dipping sauce with Calzone.
Last, but definitely not least, let’s celebrate Marinara’s central role in classic Pizza! It should come as no surprise that Marinara, like Pizza, has its roots in Naples!
So, make up a big put of Marinara when Tomatoes are in season – fresh, plentiful and cheap. Freeze it in two-cup / 500 ml portions in sturdy double-zip Zipper bags. You’ll find a thousand uses for this wonderful, versatile sauce and you’ll be glad you don’t have to go out and pay $4, $5 or even $6 or more for a bottle of the factory-made stuff!
~ Maggie J.