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In Italy, a tomato sauce with meat is called “ragù” while one without meat has the simple name of “salsa di pomodoro”= “tomato sauce”. 

The marinara sauce holds all the ingredients that one would use when preparing a sauce with, and for, fish or sea food. It was done so that sailors,fishermen and their families wouldn’t miss the flavor they knew too well even when there were no money to buy fish or no fish in the nets due to bad weather or lack of luck.

In Naples,Italy, pizzerie serve a “pizza marinara” that is topped only with tomato sauce,oregano and olive oil, and it is one of the best italian food one can ever taste.

Here in USA, restaurants serve this sauce with almost everything -one classic example is to serve it with fried calamari, which in Italy we never eat with sauce, but only with salt and a spritz of lemon – and have inflated their menus with it.

Following is the recipe for the Marinara Sauce that was always a big hit at our restaurant. We served it over spaghetti or we used it to build other plates that required a tomato sauce. Only sometimes, and after many requests, we reluctantly served it with bread to be dipped into it………you know? customer is always right!

MARINARA SAUCE

2   28oz cans of crushed tomatoes (or sauce) – 1 large onion – 3 cloves of garlic minced – 1 tbsp oregano – 1 tbsp parsley – 1 tbsp sugar – half cup olive oil – 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar – half cup red wine -1 tbsp salt -1 tsp pepper (or crushed red pepper)

Peel, clean and dice the onion. In a large pot place the olive oil and when it is medium hot add the diced onion and the garlic. Add the oregano and the parsley and stir well making sure the vegs don’t burn. Add then the balsamic vinager, the sugar and the pepper. Let cook for a minute or two and then add the red wine. Cook for a couple of minutes and then add the tomatoes (crushed,diced or sauce – according to your taste). Adjust the salt and cook for at least 35 to 45 minutes, stirring often and adding a little water in case it thickens too much.Serve over pasta  or use in recipes that call for a tomato sauce.

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Sono certa che gli amici italiani perdoneranno questa preferenza alla mia patria di adozione ma le richieste per la ricetta di una delle salse più usate negli Stati Uniti stavano diventando davvero tante e mi è sembrato giusto trascriverla direttamente in inglese. Da queste parti, la salsa marinara è come il classico prezzemolo, te la ritrovi dappertutto!!…. proprio oggi – ero a pranzo con un gruppo di amiche – me l’hanno servita insieme ai calamari fritti e, al povero cameriere sbalordito che la rifiutassi ho dovuto spiegare che noi “italiani” (non italo-americani) i calamari fritti li mangiamo con un pizzico di sale e, al massimo, una spruzzata di limone……Morale della favola, a fine pasto anche il gestore era seduto con noi a chiedere consigli su come servire cibo italiano “autentico”.

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