Spaghetti Marinara sauce, a very simple, cheap and quick-to-make recipe: the authentic Italian recipe wants only 4 ingredients: tomatoes, (preferably San Marzano quality but even cherry, cluster or datterino quality), extra virgin olive oil, garlic and oregano.
In Italian the word “Marinara” recalls the sea (“mare”) and the sailors (“marinai”), so you can think of a dish mainly made of fish. In reality, the sauce is prepared in the same way as the famous Neapolitan pizza called “alla marinara” or pizza marinara, seasoned with the exact same ingredients.
Spaghetti marinara sauce is a famous Italian spaghetti recipe, dating back at least to the mid-1900s; a simple and aromatic sauce, which can be used to season any type of pasta, in special way spaghetti.
Marinara Sauce: Some Advice on Ingredients
In order for the recipe to be fabulous-supersonically-good and not trivial, the ingredients must be of the highest quality (they are already few, if they also suck …). So let’s see:
GARLIC – Use fresh garlic cloves (please, NO dehydrated garlic …): it has a unique flavor.
OREGANO – Use fresh oregano, possibly still attached to the twigs, which you will crumble just before adding it to the sauce; you will feel the difference in flavor and aroma.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL – Last but not least, extra virgin olive oil: no matter where you buy it and which country it comes from, the important thing is that it is of superior quality (however, the Italian one is the best ;))
Having said that, let’s see how to make this delicious-simple-easy marinara sauce.
How to make Marinara Sauce from Scratch
- 400 g (14 oz) of spaghetti
- 400 g (14 oz) of well-ripened red tomatoes (quality: perino San Marzano, cherry, cluster or pizzuttello)
- salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
Step 1) – If you are using canned peeled tomatoes you can skip the first 2 steps. If, on the other hand, you have fresh tomatoes, you must remove their skin. So wash the tomatoes thoroughly then bring plenty of water to a boil in a large pot. When the water boils, dip the tomatoes for a few seconds.
Step 2) – Drain the tomatoes and, after putting them on a plate, remove their skin.
Step 4) – Now cut the garlic into slices then sautè it in a large pan with extra virgin olive oil. If you don’t like garlic or don’t digest it, you can leave it whole and remove it before adding the pasta to the sauce.
Step 5) – Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook over high heat for 5 minutes.
Step 6) – In the meantime, crumble the oregano with your fingers then add it to the sauce.
Step 7) – Stir and turn off the heat. The marinara sauce must not be too dry. If so, add 1/2 tablespoons of cooking water. In the meantime, cook the spaghetti in plenty salted water, respecting the cooking times written on their packaging (usually from 6 to 12 minutes, it depends on the thickness of the spaghetti). We used rather thick spaghetti, cooking time 12 minutes.
Who is Italian knows it: don’t break the spaghetti. Few things you have to do for this recipe so do them well …
Step 8) – So dip the spaghetti in the boiling salted water as shown in the picture in step 7 (pretend to play mikado sticks game) then with the help of a fork, fold them and press them down until they are completely submerged. Stir frequently so that they do not stick to each other. When spaghetti are cooked, drain them with a pasta server spoon and place them in the pan with the hot marinara sauce.
Step 9) – Mix and season the spaghetti with the juicy-make-me-drool marinara sauce. Serve immediately.
Variants of the Marinara Sauce Recipe
There are many variants of the marinara sauce recipe. What we have shown you is the simplest and most famous Italian recipe. This doesn’t mean that you can’t modify the recipe as you wish. Let’s see some variants together:
- Soffritto: in addition to the garlic, you can add a little onion to the sauté or replace the garlic, if it’s not to your liking, with the onion.
- Tomatoes: the marinara sauce can be made with fresh tomatoes – as in this recipe – or with canned peeled tomatoes. The consistency of the tomato can vary according to the taste: if you don’t like tomatos in pieces you can use a food mill and make it more like a puree.
- Aromatic herbs: in addition to oregano, you can add chopped basil or parsley (you can also choose just one of these herbs or add all three together, to your taste).
- Capers and olives: in many marinara sauce recipes you will find the addition of capers and/or olives that give this dish a particular taste of Mediterranean flavors.
- Shellfish and seafood: if you add shrimp, mussels or clams to this sauce, you will get an excellent fish sauce to season your pasta.
- Pizza & C .: you can use this sauce, as well as to flavor the pasta, also to season the pizza (pizza alla marinara), on bread bruschetta, you can even add homemade meatballs or match it with fried fish.
How to store Marinara Sauce
Once cooked, the marinara sauce can be kept for 2/3 days in the refrigerator. It is important in this case to store the sauce in carefully closed containers: the glass jars are excellent but alternatively you can use a special plastic or glass container with the hermetic seal for food.
You can even freeze it, using glass jars (taking care not to fill them completely) or the airtight closure containers for food. The only precautions: do not put the sauce in the freezer as soon as it has finished cooking, but wait rather that it has reached room temperature; it’s better to leave it in the freezer two or three months but not more.