In the United States, marinara sauce is a basic tomato sauce, typically flavored with garlic, onion and herbs. In Italy, it has a different meaning — as a seafood and tomato sauce. The word marinara is said to be derived from the Italian for “sailor”, “coastal” or “seafaring” depending on your base of knowledge. What passes for marinara sauce in Italian-American cuisine is really sugo di pomodoro or “tomato sauce”. “Sunday gravy” or the red sauce that most Americans are usually familiar with is a different breed of animal and has no modern relation to sugo di pomodoro except for a shared ancestry born from late 19th century/early 20th century Italian immigrants who arrived via Ellis Island.
I used the remaining Pomi tomatoes that were left over from Tuesday’s dinner in place of fresh. If you decide to make this dish, please for the love of all that’s holy use tomatoes in season and not any of the crappy greenhouse varieties. Your stomach and mouth will thank you. That being said, Pomi vacuum packed is a wonderful substitute. Canned tomatoes are ok if you must — the problem is that occasionally they might pick up some “off flavors” from the metal.
This recipe is one variation and certainly not authentic (if you care about that sort of thing).
Spaghetti with marinara sauce
chopped tomatoes and juice
anchovy fillets [optional]
red pepper flakes
kosher salt, to taste
Steam the mussels with a couple of glugs of white wine in a covered pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Discard any that don’t open. Remove the meat and reserve three to four tablespoons of the mussel juices.
Saute garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil. Add a couple of anchovy fillets if you like. Saute until garlic takes on a little color, about 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes; cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally or until sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Return mussels and mussel juices to pan, cook for 1-2 additional minutes. Check seasoning. Add pasta to saute pan, toss. Fold in parsley and serve immediately.
PS. This blog does talk about other things besides food btw. I promise it’ll get more political in a few months. I figured I’d tone down the shrillness for now.