Marinara sauce is an Italian tomato sauce which is designed to be served with pasta. As the name suggests, it traditionally includes seafood, although in the United States, marinara is typically made with just tomatoes and vegetables. This simple tomato sauce is very easy to make, and to build on; once you master a basic recipe, you can experiment with additional ingredients to make it more interesting and tailor it to your needs. Once you make marinara sauce, you can also freeze it to have a ready stock available.
To make marinara sauce in the American style, assemble around four cups of fresh tomatoes, olive oil, several cloves of garlic, and fresh basil, thyme, and oregano, along with salt and pepper. The recipe is very easy to scale up; remember that tomatoes boil down, so if you want to make a large stock for freezing, multiply this recipe by at least three. You can also use additional ingredients like onions, celery, and carrots.
Start by blanching your tomatoes in boiling water so that their skins slip off, and then finely chop them and crush them in a small bowl. Once the tomatoes are prepared, heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan, and saute the garlic until it softens. If you want to add carrots, celery, and similar ingredients, saute them with the garlic. Once the vegetables are sauteed, add the tomatoes, along with water or wine to simmer them in. Adjust the heat so that the sauce simmers gently, and add your fresh herbs.
Simmer the sauce for 20-40 minutes, allowing the tomatoes to completely break up and encouraging the flavors of the sauce to fully mix. When the sauce is done, remove it from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste before serving it or packaging it for storage. The sauce will keep for around a week in the fridge, or it can be frozen. In addition to being served on pasta, this marinara sauce can also be spread on pizza.
If you want to make an Italian-style traditional marinara sauce, add ingredients like anchovies, mussels, and/or oysters to the vegetables as they saute in the pan. You can add additional seafood such as chunks of fish, scallops, shrimp, or crab at the very end of the cooking process, allowing them to cook through before serving. Seafood marinara is a very hearty sauce, and it should be served with big, bold pasta shapes which can support it.