Originally written February 18, 2020
So I have a new client and they own a catering business. They consider themselves Dining Experience Curators, and I’d have to agree. Working with them always makes me sooo hungry but has also inspired me to cook more ! I have always loved to cook but I hate doing dishes. Additionally, cooking and cleaning take hella time which I DO NOT have lol. But at this moment, Mindy and I are making Spaghetti (I promise I’m watching the stove while I type) so I decided to drop some marinara knowledge on yall.
Marinara sauce is one of the world’s absolute most popular sauces. It’s one that’s made most often and shelved most frequently in stores. Almost everyone loves it, including us. But what is it exactly ? According to ‘purists’, marinara has just a few basic ingredients: olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and herbs. Precious, precious fresh herbs. However ! Almost no one makes it so pure anymore. We love to spice it up a little and turn it into a puttanesca or an arrabbiata sauce.
The History of Marinara
This lovely red sauce originated in either Naples or Sicily (it’s unknown). The history is actually pretty unclear but we also believe it was created around the 1600s. One source added this about it:
“I have come across many assertions that pasta with tomato sauce was unknown until the late 19th century. This is wrong for two reasons. First, noodles, which we were all taught were brought to Italy from China by Marco Polo in the late 13th century, actually arrived in Italy a century earlier, with Arab traders who were making spaghetti-like noodles from African wheat. As for tomato sauce, it’s referenced in an Italian cookbook as early as 1692, and a recipe for pasta with tomato sauce can be found in the 1790 cookbook, L’Apicio Moderno, by Roman chef Francesco Leonardi.
Another fact that suggests Marinara sauce pre-dates the 19th century is that it is named for the sailors (marinai – italian for sailors) who manned the ships that were the backbone of the sea trade that flourished long before the 19th century.”
Super interesting but who really knows ? What’s more important is… how do you make it ?!
It is INCREDIBLY simple to make this red sauce.
- 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, certified D.O.P. if possible
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 7 garlic cloves, peeled and slivered
- Small dried whole chile, or pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large fresh basil sprig, or 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, more to taste
- Pour tomatoes into a large bowl and crush with your hands. Pour 1 cup water into can and slosh it around to get tomato juices. Reserve.
- In a large skillet (do not use a deep pot) over medium heat, heat the oil. When it is hot, add garlic.
- As soon as garlic is sizzling (do not let it brown), add the tomatoes, then the reserved tomato water. Add whole chile or red pepper flakes, oregano (if using) and salt. Stir.
- Place basil sprig, including stem, on the surface (like a flower). Let it wilt, then submerge in sauce. Simmer sauce until thickened and oil on surface is a deep orange, about 15 minutes. (If using oregano, taste sauce after 10 minutes of simmering, adding more salt and oregano as needed.) Discard basil and chile (if using).
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