Marinara Sauce is a typical example of how dish names can change when they cross boundaries. There is not such a thing as “Marinara Sauce” in Italy. If you ask at a restaurant for “Spaghetti alla Marinara” you would be probably served a dish of pasta with seafood. In fact “Marinara” translate in Italian as something like “in the style of the fisherman”. And for those who are confused with “Pizza Marinara,” she (the pizza) has nothing to do with them (the spaghetti.)
So what is the point? The point is: the recipe is Italian the name is not. And also is not Italian the use of the tomato sauce as a dipping sauce. Actually I like to dip my calamari in the Marinara sauce, the same as I like to dip my bread in olive oil and that is not Italian either (but that is a different story.)
Back to the Marinara Sauce. The Marinara Sauce is called simply “Pasta ca’ Pummarola” in Neaples (Salsa di Pomodoro in Italian) and translate simply in ‘Tomato Sauce’. It is a basic meatless tomato sauce, probably considered the precursor to all the ragu’ and tomato sauces of Italy. In spite of the name (the word “marinara” refers to seafood), the sauce has no fish in it. Oregano is optional but desirable.
5 – 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 lb (450 g) tomatoes, puréed in a blender
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped (optional)
Pour olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add garlic.
Before the garlic begins coloring, add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper.
Cook over medium heat for about 20–25 minutes, until the tomato sauce thickens. Stir frequently.
Leave the pan uncovered to allow the sauce to thicken. To prevent the sauce from splattering, cover with a mesh or place a wooden spoon across the edge of the pan, so that the lid is partially open and the steam is allowed to escape.
When the sauce is ready, stir in the parsley (and the optional oregano,) and turn off the heat.
Cook the pasta in abundantly salted water following the manufacturer’s instructions, checking for readiness from time to time, until al dente (firm but not too soft or overcooked). Drain the pasta, and transfer it to a bowl. Top with the tomato sauce, toss, and serve at once.