What’s the Difference Between Bolognese and Marinara?

What's the difference between Bolognese sauce and marinara? It isn't simply that Bolognese has meat and marinara doesn't, fldhkybnva explains on Chowhound, since so-called "meat marinara" is a thing. So what's the distinction?

Bolognese is a complex sauce built around meat, Roland Parker says. Recipes vary wildly, but usually involve dairy, wine, and stock, as well as a small proportion of tomato and a ton of meat. For instance, biondanonima's favorite recipe calls for only three ounces of tomato paste but two pounds of meat!

Chinon00 favors a Bolognese made with meat, bacon, and cream, as well as a mirepoix of celery, carrots, and onions, reduced for hours (at least four). It ends up rich, deep, complex, and hearty. It's big enough to stand as a dish unto itself, though Bolognese is often merely one element in dishes like lasagna.

In contrast, marinara is a simple, quick-cooking sauce built around the bright, acidic flavor of tomatoes, dave_c says. You can make a very good marinara out of just tomatoes, olive oil, and a little garlic, biondanonima says (some would argue that even garlic is optional). Unlike long-simmered Bolognese, marinara can be done in less than an hour. It works well in light pasta dishes or to sauce breaded cutlets, wyogal says—anywhere you wouldn't want the rich, animal-protein flavor of Bolognese to take over.

Adding ground meat results in meat marinara, Roland Parker says. But you'd never mistake it for Bolognese.

Discuss: Bolognese vs marinara sauce?

Photo of Marinara Sauce by Chris Rochelle / CHOW.com