Monday Marinara

I think meatless Mondays are a great idea. Most of us don’t eat enough vegetables; while a couple of meals a week at our house are all vegetables, meat is the focus when it’s there. That’s just what tends to happen, and I know it’s mostly a result of poor planning. So we try to make sure that we have vegetable-based meals that are easy to pull out and make when even rice seems like a lot of work.

Enter the marinara sauce. Make a quick search with our friend Google – there are literally thousands of recipes for marinara sauce. When I see something like that, I always wonder why. Where did something that is so much a part of household recipes come from?

The word marinara sounds like marine, so that’s where I started looking. As it turns out, that’s a good place to start. Marinara sauce literally translates as mariner’s sauce. It is Italian, but it didn’t come as a recipe from Italy. Sailors on ships coming to the US made it up – mariner’s sauce. Those sailors would have used what was available to them, and it’s a given that their supplies wouldn’t have been the same on every trip. And when you think about a recipe with a start like that, it’s no surprise that there are so many variations.

It makes me feel less bad about the way I make it. In other words, the basic parts are the same, but no batch is ever the same. If I have fresh herbs on hand, I use them. If there are fresh tomatoes, they’re great. But it’s also easy and good to make it with dried herbs and canned tomatoes to keep it in the house year-round.

I also believe in making big batches of sauces and soups that I can freeze by the quart for later. And, when it comes to marinara sauce, even though I have a really great recipe that I can follow exactly, I play it fast and loose. I don’t measure. I don’t time it. I taste it after it’s been on the stove for a little while and add whatever I think it needs. In other words, I suck at being able to pass this recipe on.

Or maybe I don’t. Reading a recipe is good. If it’s a recipe written on a note card that your grandmother gave you, that’s wonderful. But there’s something to be said for having to spend time in the kitchen with someone, watching and tasting with them, listening to them tell you why they’re doing that step or where they learned it. Those are the recipes that you really remember. They’re the ones you don’t need to read because they come from memory. When you think about the day spent in the kitchen with someone you care about and respect, that dish you were making sticks.

Patric likes my marinara sauce. He always likes to ask what I put in it this time. And I’ve built that memory with him by telling him to come into the kitchen with me.


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One thought on “Monday Marinara

  • January 13, 2011 at 9:37 am

    All my “2 to 4 hour” pasta sauces (marinara, bolognese) get made in a 250° oven.

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