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Day 4: Marinara sauce has seafood in it, right?

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When I was watching famous home cook Giada De Laurentiis cook “marinara sauce” on the Lifestyle Food channel recently I was left extremely puzzled. Where was the seafood? “Marinara” comes from the word “marine” – am I going mad?

So, I went where everyone goes to get the answers to their questions – I Googled it. The explanation I found was that if you’re in the US, as Giada is, although she was born in Rome, this is the name they give for basic pasta sauce.

Hmmm ok then.

However, as the name suggests, if you live in Italy – it is a tomato-based sauce with guess what else … SEAFOOD!!!

Anyway, I digress. Even though I don’t agree with the name of the dish, I am going to share Giada’s recipe with you because it’s actually really, really nice – what’s in a name, afterall?

I think everyone should know how to make a sauce like this because ultimately, it’s so easy and so much better than buying one in a jar from the supermarket that’s packed full of preservatives etc. Sure, it takes a little time to make, but you can double or triple the recipe and freeze it in batches for later use.

The best part is that it’s versatile. Once you have made the sauce, then you can use it as the basis for so many things including bolognese, add some prawns and chilli and you have an awesome pasta dish, or you can even use it as a sauce on pizza bases. The last time I made this I used it to make lamb rague – one of the recipes I will share with you during The Inspiration Challenge. So, stay tuned for that.

Marinara sauce – Giada style.

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes 
  • 2 bay leaves


Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan. When it’s warmed through, add the onions and cook with some salt (this draws out the moisture and stops them from colouring) until they are soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for two minutes. Then add the celery and carrots. Cook over a medium heat until the vegies are soft.

Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over a low heat until the sauce thickens, which will take about an hour.

Remove the bay leaves and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste.

Don’t worry when you see how thick the sauce is. It’s full of flavour and the perfect base to add other textures and flavours. You can do this using wine, chicken/beef/vegie stock, depending on the recipe.

I always make this in batches and keep it on hand because when you get home from a hard day at work, the last thing you want to do is go through this process every time. This is the kind of thing you do on a Sunday afternoon.

Just as an example of how you can use it 

  • Put a pot of salted water on to boil and put in some dried pasta (whatever kind you like)
  • Cook about 3 rashers of bacon is some olive oil. Once it gets crispy, add half a glass of white wine, scraping all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the marinara sauce t0 the bacon and cooked for 5 minutes, just to reheat it .
  • Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water, and add it to the sauce and stir through.
  • Add some pasta water to the dish, if you think it’s too thick.
  • Serve with some grated parmesan. You can add fresh herbs to the sauce, if you have them available. Basil and parsley work really well.

This meal takes no more than 15 minutes, if you make the sauce base in advance.

I guess this is two recipes for the price of one – but hopefully it’s something you will enjoy and add to the list of dishes you make all the time.

Be Inspired~




4 comments on “Day 4: Marinara sauce has seafood in it, right?
  1. That’s exactly how I make mine Lisa 🙂 Except I oven roast the tomatoes, garlic, basil, herbs. Pasta sauce is definitely better fresh than out of a bottle and if you can buy bush ripened tomatoes, even better!

    • Oven roasting would make it so beautiful and sweet. Will definitely be giving that a go!
      I do think it’s worth using fresh tomatoes and taking the time to peel them – as long as they are in season. Canned are a good alternative otherwise.
      Thanks for coming to visit 🙂

    • Sounds fabulous Kat – I saw a recipe for tomato soup the other day – they roasted the tomoatoes like this, and didn’t worry about peeling. The consistency still looked lovely and smooth. Truthfully – I hate peeling tomoatoes – it’s such a iky job 🙂

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