Marinara sauce

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Marinara sauce
Ravioli Marinara.jpg
A plate of ravioli alla marinara
CourseMain course
Place of originItaly
United States
Serving temperatureHot over pasta
Main ingredientsTomatoes, garlic, onions, basil
VariationsOlives, capers

Marinara (English: "mariner's") sauce is a tomato sauce, usually made with tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and onions.[1][2] Its many variations can include the addition of capers, olives, spices, and a dash of wine.[3][4]

This sauce is widely used in Italian-American cuisine, which has diverged from its Old World origins.[5]

In Italy, alla marinara properly refers to a sauce made with tomatoes, basil, oregano and sometimes olives, capers and salted anchovies; it is used for spaghetti and vermicelli, but also with meat or fish.[6]

This is not to be confused with spaghetti marinara, a popular dish in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa where a tomato-based sauce is mixed with fresh seafood.[7] In Italy a pasta sauce including seafood is more commonly called alla pescatora.[6]


Several folk theories exist as to the origin of this sauce: One version states that cooks aboard Neapolitan ships returning from the Americas invented marinara sauce in the mid-16th century after Spaniards introduced the tomato (a central Mexican "New World" fruit) to Europe. Another theory states this was a sauce prepared by the wives of Neapolitan sailors upon their return from sea.[8]

Historically, however, the first Italian cookbook to include tomato sauce,[9] Lo Scalco alla Moderna (The Modern Steward), was written by Italian chef Antonio Latini and was published in two volumes in 1692 and 1694. Latini served as the Steward of the First Minister to the Spanish Viceroy of Naples.[9][10][11] This early tomato sauce was more like a modern tomato salsa.

A sauce similar to Italian-American marinara sauce is known of some zones of Central Italy as sugo finto.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Definition of marinara sauce on the Oxford Dictionary website". Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  2. ^ "Definition of marinara sauce on the Your Dictionary website". 2013-04-17. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  3. ^ "Giada Delaurentis' recipe for marinara sauce". Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  4. ^ Mario Batali (2007-10-05). "Mario Batali's recipe for marinara sauce on the Serious Eats website". Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  5. ^ "Ten "Italian" Foods You Won't Find in Italy". 4 March 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  6. ^ a b Marco Guarnaschelli Gotti (2007) [1990]. Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche, ed. Grande enciclopedia illustrata della gastronomia [Great Illustated Encyclopedia of Gastronomy] (in Italian). Milan: Mondadori. ISBN 978-88-04-56749-3.
  7. ^ "Recipe for Marinara from an Australian website". Retrieved 2017-05-15.
  8. ^ "Info on the origin of marinara sauce on the Italian Chef website". 2013-04-24. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  9. ^ a b Elizabeth David, Italian Food (1954, 1999), p 319, and John Dickie, Delizia! The Epic History of the Italians and Their Food, 2008, p. 162.
  10. ^ Alan Davidson, "Europeans' Wary Encounter with Tomatoes, Potatoes, and Other New World Foods" in Chilies to Chocolate: Food the Americas Gave the World, (University of Arizona Press) 1992.
  11. ^ Origins of Italian tomato sauce Retrieved 23 April 2011
  12. ^ Paolo Petroni (1985) [1974]. Il libro della vera cucina fiorentina [The Book of True Florentine Cuisine] (in Italian) (13 ed.). Florence: Bonechi. p. 41. ISBN 88-7009-023-X.

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