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Marinara is an Italian American tomato sauce often served with pasta. It is made from tomatoes, onion, garlic and herbs like basil. It is traditionally used as a condiment for a number of dishes besides pasta, like pizza, rice and seafood. Marinara recipe may have different variants, some of which also use olives, spices and capers. It is spicier than usual tomato sauce due to the herbs added to it. It is an indispensable part of many Italian dishes.

Marinara sauce was traditionally used to complement the mildness of taste of pasta. It is now also a popular sauce for dipping finger foods like mozzarella cheese sticks. It can also be used to add taste to meat dishes like chicken, veal, pork or parmigiano. It can also be used to enhance the taste experience of chicken filet sandwich or burger, instead of the usual ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard. It can also be added at various steps of preparation to dishes like pasta, salsa, chicken, etc.

The word ‘marinara’ is derived from the word ‘marinaro’, which is the Italian word for ‘sea’. It literal translation is ‘sauce of the sailors’. The fact that it was originally a sailor’s recipe for sauce gives it this name. Marinara was invented by cooks on Neapolitan ships. This happened in the 16th century when the Spaniards introduced tomatoes in Europe. The tomato sauce was easy to prepare and lasted for a longer period of time due to its high acid content, and hence it suited people on ships who were traveling for a long periods of time, at a time when there were no refrigeration arrangements in the ship.

In Italy, marinara is referred to usually in association with seafood recipes. The basic tomato sauce here is ‘pummarola’ or salsa al pomorodo. In Australia, the term refers to seafood based sauce. It may or may not contain tomatoes.

Marinara sauce is a basic tomato sauce. One marinara recipe suggests use of just parsley and garlic oil. Others are more fancy and use tomatoes along with a number of herbs. It can be used as a quick and easy-to-prepare pasta sauce or as an ingredient in a number of dishes. One can add other ingredients like chili flakes or olives to it to get more advanced sauces. For example addition of chili flakes makes arrabbiata, and that of olives, chili flakes and capers makes puttanesca. The marinara recipe is popular for its simplicity and ease of preparation.

Ingredients used in Marinara

Here is a list of most commonly used ingredients in marinara sauce-

Tomato: red, edible fruit known for its tangy taste. It forms the bulk of the marinara sauce. San Marzano tomatoes from Italy are used for preparation of authentic Marinara sauce.

Garlic: a plant from the onion family whose cloves are used for flavoring foods.

Onion: Also known as bullb onion, this is widely used across the globe in various cuisine recipes.

Basil: It is a low growing herb whose leaves have strong and pungent smell, and are used for adding taste to food.

Marinara Recipe Overview

For marinara recipe, grated onion, minced garlic and small quantity of olive oil are pureed in a food processor. This puree is sautéed in olive oil heated in a pan for a few minutes. Now carrot and thyme are added, and are cooked for some time, after which the peeled and grated tomatoes are added. Fresh basil and oregano leaves are also added with the tomatoes. The contents are allowed to bubble till thoroughly cooked. The contents are stirred occasionally during the process. When done, salt and pepper is added according to taste to the sauce. It can be refrigerated for a week. If frozen, the sauce can last as long as 6 months.

Serving Marinara

Marinara is served as a condiment to complement other dishes like pasta, pizza, rice, seafood and many other foods.

Health Benefits of Marinara

The sauce aids digestion. It primarily contains tomato which is rich in Vitamins A, B, C and K, as well as calcium, iron, phosphorus and potassium. Tomato is known to be a blood purifier, and hence its consumption helps improve skin texture. Tomato is also a natural antiseptic which protects the body against infection. Besides this, it is known to be helpful in fighting liver diseases and hemorrhages. As per a recent research, cooked tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that has cancer fighting properties. The finding is known to have increased the popularity of marinara even more.