Marinara Sauce

How to Make Marinara Sauce Like an Italian (Authentic Neapolitan Recipe)

Marinara sauce, a classic staple also referred to as Neapolitan sauce, is the most popular sauce in the world. The sauce originates from Naples, as the name suggests, and although there is speculation about its roots in Sicily, what is undisputed is the comfort food factor this sauce provides when made right. Just like a big hearty hug from Nonna.

While there are a lot of variations of marinara sauce that use onions, parsley and sometimes different spices, all of these additions are completely unnecessary. The key to a delectable marinara is being able to taste the main ingredient: tomatoes! This simple version of the sauce highlights Italy’s prized red fruit, tomatoes. If you can source them, the San Marzano variety is known for its low acidity and natural sweetness, imparting the sauce with the most incredible flavor.

Regardless of the tomato variety you find, as long as it is of high quality, you’ll never purchase marinara sauce in the jar again.

For this super Italian recipe, I could only choose some very high quality Spaghetti, from Pastificio Liguori, which can take any pasta dish to the next level!

Watch the Marinara Sauce video recipe here:

 

How to Make MARINARA SAUCE Like an Italian (Authentic Neapolitan Recipe)

   

Vincenzo’s Plate Tips

Always Use Whole Peeled Tomatoes

Whole peeled tomatoes in the can retain the most freshness and flavor of the tomatoes. To get the traditional flavour, it’s ideal to use San Marzano tomatoes. If you struggle to find this variety, use a trusted brand of Italian peeled tomatoes.

Use the Right Pasta

You can enjoy marinara sauce with any pasta but using high-quality pasta made from 100% semolina, processed with bronze dies, and air-dried at the right temperature is key. This is crucial as it generates a coarse texture, enabling sauces to adhere and permeate the pasta for a more delightful outcome. Find tips on purchasing the finest pasta here: How to BUY PASTA like an Italian

I can also sincerely recommend using Pasta Liguori  from Gragnano, Italy. It might cost a little more compared to other varieties, but it’s absolutely worth it. It has more nutrients than any of the “quick dried” varieties.  Easier to digest, and if you have had others, the taste is better too.

Remember, This is a Simple Sauce

Remembering that this sauce is meant to be as simple as possible is essential. Most of the flavor will come from using high-quality tomatoes. The profile is elevated when fresh garlic and only the right herbs are added: oregano and basil.

Adding onions or anything else is unnecessary because it will ruin the classic flavor and become too overpowering.

How to Serve Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce comes together simply and beautifully. It’s tossed with the pasta of choice and then spooned onto a plate to enjoy as-is. Most people like to have some crusty bread handy to scoop up any leftover sauce.

Neapolitan Marinara Sauce

Marinara Sauce Recipe

Mariana, or Neapolitan Sauce, is a staple in households and restaurants globally. It is used as a pasta sauce, a sauce to accompany baked dishes and of course, any leftovers are best wiped up with crusty bread. While it is bursting with flavour, it’s actually quite easy to make and the ingredients meld together beautifully. No chopping or hard work is involved — just three solid tips: don’t burn the garlic, cook it slowly and without question, avoid overcooking the pasta that it will accompany!
5 from 4 votes

Equipment

  • Large bowl
  • Tomato crusher
  • 2 Large saucepans
  • Garlic crusher (optional)
  • wooden spoon
  • Kitchen Tongs

Ingredients
  

  • 800 g Whole peeled tomatoes 28oz
  • 4-5 Garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 bunch Oregano fresh
  • 1-2 bunches Basil fresh
  • Pastificio Liguori Spaghetti or pasta made from 100% Italian semolina
  • Salt and pepper as much as required
  • Extra virgin olive oil EVOO
  • Chili pepper flakes optional
  • Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano optional for serving

Instructions
 

  • Start by gently crushing the whole peeled tomatoes to achieve a “rustic look.” This means most of the sauce should be smooth with visible chunks of tomato throughout.
  • Heat 5 tbsp of EVOO in the saucepan on medium heat.
  • Crush the 4-5 cloves of garlic cloves into the oil and spread it around the pan using a wooden spoon. Add a few splashes of water to the saucepan to keep the garlic from burning.
  • Once the garlic starts to turn golden (not brown), add the crushed tomatoes. Use the wooden spoon to continue crushing the tomatoes and spread them throughout the pan.
  • Once the sauce comes to a nice simmer, add about 60% of the fresh oregano leaves and stir. Then add a generous amount of salt and pepper and stir once more. (add a pinch or two of chili pepper flakes if desired).
  • Cook the sauce for 10-12 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • While the sauce is cooking, bring 3.78L (4 qt) of water to a rolling boil. Once the water is boiling, add 1 tbsp of salt and the pasta. Boil for 8-10 minutes (until al dente).
  • Once the sauce comes together, turn off the heat and add the rest of the fresh oregano and basil. Gently stir with the wooden spoon to release the aromas of the two herbs.
  • When the pasta has almost finished cooking, scoop up some water and set aside.
  • Refer to the packet instructions which reference a cooking time for your pasta. Once cooked, using tongs, add the pasta directly to the saucepan of the marinara sauce. Toss the pasta through, adding 3-4 tbsp pasta water to help combine the ingredients.
  • Once the pasta and sauce are combined, add as much or as little as desired to the plate.
  • Top with some more pieces of fresh basil and oregano, sprinkle the preferred cheese on top….and devour!

Video

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

E ora si mangia, Vincenzo’s Plate….Enjoy!

Marinara Sauce Vincenzo's Plate

In Italy there are many ways to make Tomato Sauce, and here you can find my 2 favorite ones:

Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce

How to make Spaghetti al Pomodoro

 

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12 Responses to Marinara Sauce

  1. Justin Bono February 25, 2024 at 8:16 AM #

    Vincenzo, Oregano? really? my Neapolitan mother and Sicilian grandmother never put oregano in pasta sauce! Only in Pizza sauce. I can’t believe you used it. Are you sure that you didn’t make some kind of Greek sauce?

    • Vincenzo's Plate March 25, 2024 at 1:55 PM #

      Ciao Justin, It’s always important we listen to one another’s traditions and yes, oregano is used in Greek recipes a lot more than Italian, but for this classic, we always add it. Of course the more basil the better, almost always, so if you don’t like it, just don’t use it! My Nonna only really uses basil but I wanted to share the true marinara, and this is it. Grazie

  2. tkeAndrewn And February 26, 2024 at 8:01 AM #

    It was a nice simple sauce but lacked heat. I added hot peppers and extra pepper flakes for more flavour. It was a good sauce base onto which one could build.

    • Vincenzo's Plate March 1, 2024 at 5:26 PM #

      Glad you enjoyed the sauce as a base! Adding hot peppers and extra pepper flakes sounds like a great way to customize it to your taste preferences. Enjoy!

  3. Diego February 27, 2024 at 12:39 PM #

    5 stars
    Made it for friends! Carefull ingredient selection, step by step the recipe. They loved it!

    • Vincenzo's Plate March 1, 2024 at 5:15 PM #

      So happy to hear that your friends loved the marinara sauce! It’s always rewarding when careful ingredient selection and following the recipe steps pay off.

  4. Jeff Billiter March 4, 2024 at 7:48 AM #

    5 stars
    Simple, but delicious. This was my first try with a sauce (I’m trying to expand my cooking skills). My wife wants me to make it once a week it turned out so well! Thank you Vincenzo for the excellent instructions!

    • Vincenzo's Plate March 12, 2024 at 7:15 PM #

      I’m glad your marinara sauce turned out so well, your wife is so lucky to have such talented and amazing husband. Thank you for the support, what recipes would you like to try on next?

  5. Andy ⚾️⚾️ June 12, 2024 at 11:59 AM #

    5 stars
    I had a bunch of tomatoes and this was a great recipe to make and use them up. Simple and easy…perfect for a quick dinner in the summer. This will definitely be part of my rotation and so much tastier than anything I can buy in the grocery store.

    • Vincenzo's Plate June 13, 2024 at 9:54 AM #

      Ciao Andy! It’s simple yet delicious, right? And so much tastier than anything store-bought! I’m thrilled to hear you’ve added this to your dinner rotation. What type of dish did you create with the marinara?

  6. Christine. PercivalPercival June 25, 2024 at 7:33 AM #

    5 stars
    Ciao Vincenzo!
    I am a student of Italian, for over 25 years my husband and I have traveled extensively through Italy, particularly Napoli, Roma, Siena, Firenze and the list goes on. I love Italian food and live in the US. I have looked extensively for great, authentic Italian websites and found you just today!!!

    You have captured the authentic way to cook and I better get started with your recipes. Don’t you go anywhere😂…
    I am thrilled.

    Your video presentations meet perfection with incredibly helpful details. ……I have subscribed.

    Grazie Mille! Il tuo cibo è squisito ~~~~~ I can taste it!

    • Vincenzo's Plate June 25, 2024 at 11:13 AM #

      Ciao Christine! Thank you so much for your kind words and for subscribing! It’s wonderful to connect with someone who shares such a deep love for Italian cuisine. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about the recipes, or if there’s anything specific you’d like to see. Grazie mille a te, and happy cooking!

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