I know that most people associate Marinara Sauce with pasta. Historically, the sauce was intended for fish! Marinara translates to “marine,” or what the online dictionary defines as “Of or relating to the sea.” In any event, I make this ruby-toned condiment just as our southern Italian friends do: quickly, easily, and without a whiff of onion. Here’s the step-by-step:
Grab 5 cloves of garlic…
And coarsely mince them.
Then crack open a (28-ounce) can of peeled plum tomatoes…
And pour them (and all of their juices) into a large bowl.
Wanna use fresh tomatoes? According to Fine Cooking Magazine, one 28-ounce can of plum tomatoes equals about 10-12 fresh, whole plum tomatoes, peeled (about 2 pounds).
Violently crush the squishy fruit with your (impeccably clean) hands.
Next, in a wide skillet over medium heat, add 1/4 cup (yes, 1/4 cup!) of good olive oil. A skillet (as opposed to a pot) will permit the sauce to cook down and thicken up quickly.
Add the garlic, and let it cook just until fragrant — about 30 seconds. Don’t let the garlic brown. Brown garlic is bitter garlic.
Then add the tomatoes…
And 1 cup of good red wine…
1 teaspoon kosher salt…
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano…
And 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.
Give the sauce a stir, and then adjust the heat maintain a simmer.
Run out to your garden and snip a nice big sprig of basil. My basil is pathetically small because I only planted it a few weeks ago. If your basil looks like mine, go ahead and use 3 or more sprigs.
Lay the basil directly on top of the sauce…
And when the herb wilts, submerge it into the sauce.
Let the marinara simmer until it has reduced and thickened slightly, and the oil on the surface turns bright orange — about 20 minutes.
Off heat, remove and discard the basil.
And how shall we enjoy this fresh, fragrant, molto delizioso marinara?
Well, you could spread some marinara on a plate…
And top it with a baked haddock fillet!
Spoon a little sauce over the fish…
And garnish it with a tiny sprig of basil. (This was my dinner last night.)
Then again, you could put some (al dente) spaghetti on a plate…
And spoon some marinara over the pasta.
Add some Parmesan cheese…
And a flurry of chopped parsley. (This was my second dinner last night.)
However you serve it, I think you’ll find this marinara is infinitely better than its commercial counterpart. Give it a try, okay?
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Marinara Sauce for Fish or Pasta
- a large, non-reactive skillet (such as stainless steel)
- 1 28-ounce can peeled plum tomatoes
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 cup full-bodied red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (triple the amount for fresh)
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 large sprig of fresh basil
- Tip the tomatoes and all of their juices into a large bowl. Crush and tomatoes by hand or with the help of a potato masher.
- In a skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Then add the garlic, and saute until fragrant -- about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the wine, salt, oregano, and the red pepper flakes. While stirring from time to time, bring the mixture to a simmer. Then lay the basil sprig on top, and let it float there until its leaves wilt. Use a spatula or spoon to push the basil down into the sauce. Simmer until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly -- about 20 minutes.
- Off heat, use tongs to remove the basil. Serve the sauce at once, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.