There are as many recipes for tomato pasta sauce as there are Italian grandmothers. My Sicilian grandmother used to make her sauce every year from the tomatoes in her garden. Much of the time the sauce had meat in it but I don’t think it was ever exactly the same twice. A child of the depression, my grandmother would throw into the pot whatever she had on hand; scraps of a roast, pieces of cooked pork, sausages, rinds of parmesan cheese. You never knew what you’d find in the sauce, but it was always good.
This is really a base pasta sauce recipe, meant to adapt to whatever you want it to be. Like meat in your sauce? Add a tough cut and let it cook down to make a Bolognese. Want to keep it vegetarian? Enjoy the recipe as it is or add some diced up vegetables. Like Pasta alla Norma? Add red chili flakes and diced eggplant to the sauce. Mushrooms or meatballs, it’s all up to you.
While the photo shows the sauce in a jar, I didn’t can this sauce. There are only so many ways to photograph tomato sauce, and stacks of tupperware just don’t make that pretty of a picture. But the sauce does freeze well, so you can enjoy the taste of freshly made sauce a few months from now, once the weather turns cold.
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Other ideas for the end-of summer-glut of tomatoes:
I’ve had a few people comment (some of them not posted here because they were not nice) that the name “Marinara” refers to a tomato sauce with seafood in it. Just about every definition I could find disputes this. I hope the information below clears up any confusion.
The New Food Lover’s Companion defines Marinara as “A highly seasoned Italian tomato sauce made with onions, garlic and oregano. It’s used with pastas and some meats.” Epicurious uses this same definition.
Even more interesting from a historical perspective was this one from http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-marinara-sauce.htm
“Marinara sauce originated with sailors in Naples in the 16th century, after the Spaniards introduced the tomato to their neighboring countries. The word marinara is derived from marinaro, which is Italian for “of the sea.” Because of this, many people mistakenly believe marinara sauce includes some type of fish or seafood.
However, marinara sauce loosely translates as “the sauce of the sailors,” because it was a meatless sauce extensively used on sailing ships before modern refrigeration techniques were invented. The lack of meat and the sheer simplicity of making tasty marinara sauce were particularly appealing to the cooks on board sailing ships, because the high acid content of the tomatoes and the absence of any type of meat fat resulted in a sauce which would not easily spoil.”
Finally http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/marinara defines it as:
Main Entry: mar·i·na·ra
Pronunciation: \ˌmer-ə-ˈner-ə, –ˈnär-\
Etymology: Italian (alla) marinara, literally, in sailor style
: made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices <marinara sauce>; also : served with marinara sauce <spaghetti marinara>