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Sauce vs. Paste

When I was first married I asked my Italian mother-in-law for her marinara sauce recipe. I’d had it on more than one occasion and found it quite tasty; needless to say, my new husband thought it was delicious. So why wouldn’t I make it?

Nancy was most generous, not only with her sauce recipe, but also with some of her son’s other favorites; and I used her recipes long after he and I divorced.

The main ingredient was always tomato sauce.  Hunt’s tomato sauce to be precise.  Not Contadina.  Not Classico.  Not Prego.  And back in that day, neither Paul Newman nor Emeril had invaded grocery shelves yet.

This past Christmas, my son – half-Italian – visited and offered to make his version of marinara sauce.  It was nothing like his grandmother’s, but I found it just as tasty. It was also healthier, and I say this because Kevin is a vegetarian who reads labels.  He uses tomato paste, which is nothing but reduced tomatoes, instead of sauce which often has salt and other items added.  I’d never noticed before.

By the time the Christmas holiday was over, my pantry had a stock of generic tomato paste and my recipe box had a new approach to marinara. I actually found the paste version creamier.  So I converted from sauce and didn’t even wonder if Nancy were shaking a finger from above.

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