Marinara Sauce ( If it’s Sunday, it must be red sauce)


If it’s Sunday, it must be red sauce….well at least if you’re Italian.  We don’t eat pasta with vegetables on Sundays.  This is a day for red sauce only.  I’m not sure how this came to be, but not having red sauce on your pasta on a Sunday would be equivalent to having a hamburger!  As a matter of fact, should we have a barbeque in the summer on a Sunday and serve hot dogs and hamburgers, there is always a pasta with a fresh tomato and basil served as well.  There is a joke that I love…”what is the an Italian barbeque?  You eat the baked ziti outside instead of inside.”  I am just amazed at how many red sauces there actually are.  Also, just putting the same sauce on a different pasta shape, can taste entirely different.  We usually have a meat and salad to follow the pasta, but for some reason we only do this on Sundays.  I believe that comes from the tradition of having meat sauce on Sundays.  During the week, pasta and a salad is just fine.

So today I am going to share my mother’s version of “marinara sauce” with you.  There are many variations on this sauce.  My husband makes a delicious one, but it is not my mother’s.  Once again, the pot used for cooking the sauce is very important, at least for me.  It is the only way I can get the exact flavor.  My Aunt Gerry, my mother’s sister, gave me a classic 1970’s Dutch Oven for my birthday right before I was married, as she knew that was THE pot to use. I used that pot to create a perfect replica for 30 years before throwing it out.  That was a very sad day for me.  I actually passed this pot around to my dearest friends who wanted to replicate my sauce. It took some time to find a replacement pot that would create the same taste, but I finally found a copper pot that is as close as it gets.  I am satisfied with this.

If you look at this old, tomato stained recipe, you can see that there really is very little instruction.  My mother made her sauce from memory, as did her mother, and I do the same.  When I made this sauce today (it is Sunday), I measured everything so I could give you the exact amounts.  I also made a rather large pot because I will be saving the sauce and using it for eggplant parmesan later in the week…and I will share that recipe and story with you then.  This sauce also freezes beautifully, so if you are going to make it, you might as well make enough to use again.

If you have a “red sauce” recipe to share, I would love it if you would place it in the comments section.  There are 52 Sundays a year!

Recipe for Marinara Sauce

3 to 4 cloves of garlic, sliced, not too thinly.
1/2 to 3/4 cups of extra virgin olive oil
Sautee this for a few minutes but do NOT brown the garlic.  Shut off the flame before this happens.
Keep the flame off until you add the rest of the ingredients.
4 28 ounce cans of San Marzano Italian peeled tomatoes, squished in your hands*
1 tbsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. of dried oregano
Bring back to a mild boil, then lower and simmer for at least one hour, stirring occasionally.
* San Marzano tomatoes from Italy (and it must say “Product of Italy” on the can) are the best.  Not only do they taste the best and squish the best, but Dr. Oz says they are one of the top anti-cancer foods around.  He says they must be from Italy as well.  I don’t know why, but “squishing” is a key factor in the taste of this sauce.  In the close-up photo you can see what consistency I am talking about.
Also, don’t judge the amounts of the ingredients until you let the sauce cook for the recommended time.  The oregano will melt into the sauce for flavoring and the oil seems to disappear.

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