Marinara Sauce AKA Neapolitan Sauce AKA Napoli Sauce AKA La Salsa

Servings: 8 Prep: 5 mins Cook: 3 hrs Total: 3 hrs

Here’s something I didn’t know! Marinara sauce, to Americans, is kinda-sorta not really properly named! In most all other countries “Marinara” includes seafood! (hint hint: marine)

Because this site isn’t totally geared for American audiences (even though about 90% are from the US), various UK, Australian and other English speaking countries (not sure about Canada … they might call it the same thing as the US). Hey, Canada! Does the word “marinara” invoke thoughts of seafood, or the dipping sauce that goes with your mozzarella sticks? Inquiring minds want to know!

*ahem*

The sauce that most Americans know as “Marinara” is actually more in line with “Neapolitan Sauce”, harking from Naples, Italy. Funnily enough, if you were an American in Naples and asked for “La Salsa”, you’d get Marinara!

It’s sort of like how every other country calls soccer “football”, except the US, where we have an entirely different game we call football.

Back to the story at hand … Napoli Sauce is basically a tomato based sauce, cooked with tomatoes and onions. That’s about it!

This is also a chance to talk a little bit about canned San Marzano Tomatoes. Legend has it that the first San Marzano tomato seeds were a gift from the King of Peru to the King of Naples sometime during the 1770s. These seeds were then planted near the city of San Marzano in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. From these seeds, crossbreeding and careful selection led to the current day San Marzano tomato.

Sometimes legends lie. The reality is far murkier, with the first actual “printed” mention of San Marzano Tomatoes appearing in an American agricultural book put out by the USDA mentions them in cans, in 1894. In 1902, some Italian documents mention that they are a cross between 3 other varieties: King Umberto, Fiaschella, and the Fiascona.

What IS true is that true San Marzano Tomatoes are grown in the volcanic soil of Mount Vesuvius near Naples, Italy. They are harvested when ripe, as the sun goes down. They are sweet, fleshy, high in pectin (thicker sauces), low in seeds, bright red and easy to peel. Oh! And, they look like an elongated Roma Tomato.

The primary reason for San Marzano Tomatoes being such a big deal is, they are reliable and delicious. When it’s not summertime and amazing local tomatoes are not available, these sweet tomatoes, canned at their absolute peak, are the way to go. Many Chefs will do a little happy dance for the real thing. For TRUE San Marzano Tomatoes, from Italy, look for the DOP seal, indicating “Designation of Origin”. Seeds have travelled outside the region and are also canned, but they are not grown in the same soil, or picked by the same standards. So, while many canned “San Marzano Tomatoes” are actually spawned from the same seed … they are not the same thing. Buyer beware.

Two suggestions for purchasing online …

Strianese Whole Peeled D.O.P. San Marzano Tomatoes – These are true canned tomatoes, imported from Italy. As of these writings, they are $10.40 US, per can. YIKES!

Carmelina ‘e San Marzano Italian Peeled Tomatoes in Puree – This is what I use. These are from the same source, have no added flavors and are packed in puree, rather than sauce. The end result is tasty, sweet and not watered down. Sure, they’re not TRUE San Marzano’s, but they’re close enough and at less than $3.00 US per can, I’m willing to sacrifice a tiny difference in quality … for a canned product.

Note: Pictures are taken with Chicken Nuggets.

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Marinara Sauce AKA Neapolitan Sauce AKA Napoli Sauce AKA La Salsa
Ingredient
Calories
Fat
Protein
Carbs
SA’s
Fiber
Net Carbs
1 tbsp (14g) extra virgin olive oil
120
12
0
0
0
0
0
1 small (110g) onion, diced
44
0
1
10
0
2
8
4 each (12g) garlic clove, cut into thin rings
16
0
0
4
0
0
4
1 28-oz can (800g) san marzano tomatoes
150
0
6
36
0
12
24
16 leaves (6.4g) fresh basil, hand torn
1.5
0.1
0.2
0.2
0
0.1
0.1
salt and pepper, to taste
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Grand Totals (of 8 servings):
331.5
12.1
7.2
50.2
0
14.1
36.1
Totals Per Serving:
41.4
1.5
0.9
6.3
0
1.8
4.5 g
32.1%
Fat
8.5%
Protein
59.4%
Carbs

Marinara Sauce AKA Neapolitan Sauce AKA Napoli Sauce AKA La Salsa

Marinara Sauce AKA Neapolitan Sauce AKA Napoli Sauce AKA La Salsa

5 from 1 vote
Print Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 8 Servings
Author: DJ Foodie

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 4 each garlic clove cut into thin rings
  • 1 28-oz can san marzano tomatoes
  • 16 leaves fresh basil hand torn
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a medium sized sauce pot, add your oil and place on the stove over medium-low heat. Watch the pot, so you don't burn the oil. Extra virgin oil burns really quickly and will make everything taste like a burned oil.
  • THE MOMENT you see the surface of the oil ripple just a tiny bit, or become thinner, like water, as you roll it around the pan, add your garlic and onions, with a little salt and pepper. Stir until translucent and aromatic (about 5 minutes).
  • While the onions and garlic are sweating, open your can of San Marzano's and dump them into a large salad bowl. With both hands, grab each tomato and squeeze it. It will squish and become one with the puree. Do this to all the tomatoes, to create a thick and chunky tomato puddle.
  • Once the tomatoes are properly squooshed, pour them into the pot with the translucent garlic and onions.
  • Let the sauce simmer away until it is the appropriate consistency. I was in a bit of a rush when I made the batch in the photos, resulting in some of the water separating out. It's still tasty, but it could've simmered longer.
  • Allow to simmer for upwards of 3 hours, over very low heat. Season with salt and pepper (tomatoes can take a lot of salt, so you can add a little more than may feel natural).
  • Finish by stirring in some fresh hand torn basil, at the last minute.
  • Serve!

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* Learn More: More about this recipe and nutrition …

16 thoughts on “Marinara Sauce AKA Neapolitan Sauce AKA Napoli Sauce AKA La Salsa”

  1. What is a serving? You never have that on any of your posts, which by the way I like. You say that it serves 8, but what is the actual serving–1/2 cup or what???

  2. Judi, if you just mixed the ingredients together, it would be roughly 4 cups worth of sauce. A serving would be about 1/2 cup. However, if you reduce it for 3 hours, it REALLY depends on you, your stove, your level of patience, etc. The end result will be somewhere between about 1/4 and 1/2 cup of actual sauce. Because of these variations, I never know how to quantify it for people.

  3. DJ thanks for the help and keep the good and interesting stories coming. I love to read them before I get to the recipe.

  4. Is there any other tomatoes you can use, other than the San Marsano. I am unable to get them here. I have read that they are the best, but is there a close 2nd? Thanks

  5. Hi Unknown. You could even just use fresh cut up tomatoes. Ultimately, a lot of it just comes down to water. Just let it slowly simmer, allowing the water to evaporate. Eventually it will thicken up to match your expectations. This would work with fresh tomatoes, or really any canned tomato, as well. I hope this helps!

  6. I do make this marinara sauce all the time without the onions is very very good, I do put basil at the beginning & at the end, an easy way to mush up the tomatoes pour them in the pan careful does splatter once they are worm I do use the potato musher one less pot to wash, also last long in the freeze, any sort of whole tomatoes works for this recipe, Muier Geln are good or I do buy any whole cans tomatoes when they are on sale. Good luck.

  7. Perfect timing. I have tomatoes from my garden overtaking my kitchen! I’m going to make my own blanched/stewed tomatoes and use your recipe to complete them. Yummy!!

  8. Did they raise the price after you promoted them? The link going to Amazon is $59.37 for a case of 12 which means they are $4.95 per can! Unless I am reading things wrong!

  9. Thanks for the thoughts and input, Angelo! <br /><br />

    Niki ? YAY! <br /><br />

    Pam, yep! It would certainly appear that way! My only suggestion would be to take the lessons from the article and bargain hunt with those ideas in mind. There?s bound to be a better deal out there, somewhere. Sorry they raised the prices!

  10. DJ

    I grow the San Marzano tomatoes in my garden (the Americanized version since I have no volcanic soil) and they are fantastic (the Mercedes of tomatoes)…their color, taste, small amount of seeds and thin skin are great for sauce.  I make a ton of sauce in the summer to use all winter long. 

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