Welcome to the Italian Cookery column with Silvia Todesco, and this month one of the classic Italian sauces that always tastes so much better when cooked from scratch instead of out of a jar.
Italian tomatoes sauce: the truth about “Marinara”
Tomatoes sauce is one of the main popular Italian’s “food” all around the world. And I believe the reason of that is because you can use the “Italian Tomatoes sauce” as important ingredients to make many Italian recipes, as for Italian Spaghetti, Italian Cannelloni, Italian Parmigiana, Tomatoes and Salsiccia sauce pasta, Amatriciana , Italian Meatballs, pasta alla pizzaiola, and so on.
The curious thing about Italian tomatoes sauce is that it is not a simple tomatoes puree, but there is a precise method to make it, that of course can slightly change from family to family (for example some Italians use sugar in their tomatoes sauce), but that most of the time requires, besides canned tomatoes, also garlic, onion, rosemary, nutmeg, pepper (or red pepper) and basil. At this point I should precise that in the past it was very common (also for my mom) to prepare the “tomatoes puree” at home, at the end of the summer, with home harvested tomatoes. I remember all the countless hours that took to my mom for cleaning the tomatoes, depriving from the skin and seed, cooking, pureeing and then canning. Nowadays even in Italy it is less common to find homemade canned tomatoes, but the one you buy already canned, still allows to get a decent sauce.
When I moved here in Midwest I got a bit confused from some American friends that insisted to have my secret “Marinara sauce”, which honestly at the time I had no idea what it was, and only after I found out that Americans call “Marinara” what for Italians is just regular “tomatoes sauce”. And be aware that if you take a trip to Italy and order a “pasta with Marinara Sauce” (Marinara means “related to the sea”) you will likely get a Sea Food pasta!
But going back to this basic Italian recipe, learning how to make it is very easy and once you’ll mastered it, you’ll be able to prepare a lot of other delicious meals!
Ingredients for 6-8 servings
- 2 cans plain tomatoes sauce (please, free of any dressing)
- 5 tbs. virgin olive oil
- 1/2 medium sized white onion (or 1 small sized white onion)
- 2 big cloves or garlic (deprived of the stem)
- 1 rosemary spring (or 2 tsp. dried rosemary)
- 1 pinch of nutmeg
- 1 basil leaf (or 1 tsp. dried basil)
- 1 pinch black pepper (or crushed red pepper)
In a sauce pan, heat at medium heat about 3 tbs. virgin olive oil, the garlic cloves cut in four, the rosemary spring and the finely chopped onion.
Sauté the onion until changes color and becomes “translucent” stirring time to time. It may take 5-8 minutes. Never leave the stove during this phase because you don’t want to burn the onion. When the onion looks ready, add the canned tomatoes sauce, the pepper, the basil, the nut meg and let the tomatoes sauce reach the boil.
Once the sauce is boiling, switch at low heat, cover the pot with a lid and let it cook for about 30 minutes. The sauce should never loose the boiling point, but cook slowly without getting a burned bottom. Finally, add 2 more tbs. of olive oil, stir gently, and use the sauce to dress your spaghetti or to complete any other recipe you could have in mind. Sounds incredible but spaghetti dressed with this easy tomatoes sauce, tastes just amazing!
I shall admit that I LOVE eat the tomatoes sauce just like that in a warm slice of fresh baked baguette
or as a scrummy deep for Italian meatballs.. YUM!
As simple as it is, as extraordinary good as it is!
LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!
TIPS: – When it’s time to buy the canned tomatoes sauce, please avoid those that pretend to be somehow “Italian” and are already flavored. Buy the regular plain tomatoes sauce;
– If you don’t mind the idea of a hint of spicy in your sauce, substitute the black pepper with a couple of tsp. of crushed red peppers;
– It’s very important to cook the sauce patiently at low heat, otherwise it will get too dry (if not burnt) and would keep a taste of “row tomatoes” and for sure we don’t want that!
– Once cooked you can freeze the sauce and thaw right before using it!
If you live in the QUAD CITIES AREA (Iowa, USA) you can order desserts from Silivia from her Italian Home Bakery
My thanks to Silvia for another delicious recipe, and it would be great if you would share your feedback and the post for others to enjoy and subscribe to Italian Goodness if you would like to receive a new recipe each week for free.
About Silvia Todesco
I’m Silvia, I come from Veneto Region (from Bassano del Grappa precisely, one hour by car far from Venice), and I moved to Iowa in 2011, because of my husband’s job necessities.
I’ve grown up watching my great-grandmother, my grandmother, and my mother cooking for my family every day, searching carefully for ingredients and preparing fresh food. That was their way to show us how much they cared (and care) about us, and to carry on a tradition. I cannot recall a festivity without relatives everywhere and tons of delicious food to eat!
But my way was different I graduated with honors at the University of Law of Padua, and (obviously) I became a lawyer. As a professional, I used to work 14 hours a day, and, of course, the time I could dedicate to my family (and cooking) was almost none.
Then fate brought us here, and finally I’ve found myself. All my background came up, and I realized that taking care of my family is the most satisfying job I could do, especially because it entails cooking healthy and good food!
So I started to practice what I learned when I was young, and surprised myself in making all those meals that characterized my youth.
Integration in a new society is not easy, but it was nice for us to discover how much Italians are loved abroad! And since every new person we have met asked me if I was a good cook, and told me that they love Italian food, well, I decided to share my Italian cooking culture and recipes with you!
Of course, you won’t need to be an expert to follow my recipes! What I’m writing about is our daily menus- recipes made with simple and few ingredients, most of the time cheap and healthy (because the food is not processed).
Plus, considering my passion for cooking, I will also share with you new recipe I discovered in magazines, websites, or shared by friends, and in this case I will always describe you the origin of my posts objects.
In addition, I promise not only to write about Italian food, but especially to give suggestions related to where and how to find the right ingredients and tools you will need. I really hope that you will enjoy my tips!
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You can find all the recipes for a four course Italian meal in this file and also Silvia’s monthly posts. Italian Cookery with Silvia Todesco