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All About Italy’s Spicy Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce is a popular Italian red sauce. This meatless sauce can be easily and quickly made from tomatoes, onions and herbs. You might find this sauce a little spicier than other red tomato sauces. This is because it has large amounts of garlic, oregano, basil, and even chili pepper. Its simplicity and easy-to-make feature allows it to be used in many great Italian dishes.

Besides its traditional use of highlighting the mild taste of pasta such as linguini or ziti, marinara is also a popular dipping sauce for finger foods like fried mozzarella cheese sticks and calzones. This sauce can be used by you to add a little zest to meat dishes such as chicken, veal parmigiano, pork steaks, and grilled seafood. You can also use it to replace mustard or mayonnaise in a burger or a chicken filet sandwich and perhaps relish the food more.

Despite being easy to make, there are currently hundreds of types of marinara in the market. The popularity of the sauce may be due to recent research, which revealed that cooked tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

Origins of Marinara Sauce

Marinara is derived from the Italian word marinaro meaning “of the sea” and marinara sauce loosely translates into “the sauce of the sailors”. It originated with sailors in Naples in the 16th century, after the introduction of tomato by the Spaniards. In those days of no refrigeration it was in great demand among the cooks on the ships for two reasons. Firstly, because the absence of meat and high acid content of the tomatoes would not spoil the sauce, and secondly, because it was easy to prepare.

Preparation of marinara sauce


6 pounds ripe Italian-type tomatoes
1 cup very finely minced onion
1/2 cup very finely minced celery
1 cup very finely minced carrots
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar

Seasonings – Added according to taste

Ground white pepper
Ground coriander
Dried marjoram
Dried basil
Dried oregano

Drop tomatoes into boiling water, a few at a time. Let the water return to a boil, then remove the tomatoes and drain. Peel and chop.

Cook the onion, celery, and carrots in the olive oil, in a large covered saucepan, over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring a few times. Uncover and stir, over the heat, for 5 to 10 minutes more, or until the vegetables are very soft and lightly gold.

Add the tomatoes, sugar and pepper and simmer gently, covered, for 15 minutes.

Puree the sauce through the medium disc of food mill. Add the optional seasoning and cook at a bare simmer until a desirable consistency is reached, about 20 minutes, stirring often. Add salt to taste. You can add a little hot sauce to give it a kick as well.

If you prefer a smooth sauce, work the sauce through the fine disc of a food mill.

Cool the marinara and refrigerate it. It will keep, refrigerated, for about a week, or for several months if frozen.