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The glorious San Marzano Plum Tomato

The glorious San Marzano Plum Tomato

The Macaroni Marathon goes forward taking a look back at history and legend.

Perhaps the simplest of sauces to make but one of most delicious. If you’ve never made a tomato sauce with these prized tomatoes, I encourage you to try them because then you will know first hand why they are tomatoes of legnd. This sauce is excellent with any pasta however, if you use a tubular pasta or shells, you can sort of scoop up the sauce with each mouthful.  Buono Appetitto, Mangia!

But first the story of this glorious tomato! 

Perhaps no other tomato in the world has quite the story to tell as the San Marzano tomato does. It resembles one of those celebrity rise and fall and rise again stories that chronicle the life of some actor, singer, or statesman. As the most famous plum tomato for making sauce, the San Marzano is preferred by Gourmet Chefs and Cooks all over the world. In Italy and elsewhere in Europe, they are a household name. In organic & specialty food stores in the United States, imported and certified SM’s sell for eyebrow raising prices.

Foodies and connoisseur’s, to put it politely but accurately, are FANATICAL about certified San Marzano tomatoes and talk about them with elitist sounding hyperbole. Gardeners too prefer them for homemade sauces and carefully and lovingly raise their San Marzano plants all season long. And finally, it is the only tomato sauce allowed on a Neapolitan pizza, “otherwise it’s just meat and sauce,” as one Italian cook puts it.

The LEGEND  goes like this:  It seems only suitable that a tomato as famous as the San Marzano should have a mythical and romantic genesis. According to “oral tradition,” 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.

It’s a wonderful story to tell that just happens to serve the public relations purposes of the San Marzano quite nicely. It’s vague, with a lot of wiggle room, and sounds like it could be true.

It’s not.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cans (28 oz ea.) San Marzano Tomatoes

1/2 cup minced sweet onion

6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

2 TBS EV olive oil

3 cups of basil leaves thinly sliced

2 TBS unsalted butter

coarse salt and ground pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Crush tomatoes by hand into sieve placed over large bowl, removing any hard stems.  Gently squish tomatoes with your fingers to release all the juices.  Drain tomatoes, shaking sieve over bowl to reserve juices.  Set aside.

Add onions, garlic and olive oil to large skillet or braising pan on MEDIUM-LOW.  Cook stirring, about 5 minutes until soft but not browned.

Add reserved tomato juice; increase heat to MEDIUM-HIGH.  Cook, stirring often, about 25 minutes until liquid is reduced by three-quarters.

Add crushed tomatoes to pan.  Reduce heat to LOW; simmer 10 minutes.

Add basil leaves, butter, salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring, 5 minutes.

Recipe from Wegman’s Menu magazine           

CENTO San Marzano Tomatoes - Certified!

CENTO San Marzano Tomatoes – Certified!

Rosa San Marzano Tomatoes

Rosa San Marzano Tomatoes

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Marinara Sauce aka Sailor's Sauce

Marinara Sauce aka
Sailor’s Sauce

I love pasta! Actually other than my passion for ice cream, pasta is my favorite food.  Think about the various shapes, the many ways to prepare it and of course the myriad sauces.  This particular sauce is one from my own childhood.  We often had spaghetti with marinara sauce on Fridays – those were the days when Fridays were meatless.  I think it’s a wonderful light summer sauce and a great way to incorporate a vegetarian dish into your weekly dinners.

MARINARA SAUCE

3 TBS olive oil

2 cans of whole Italian plum tomatoes

4 cloves of garlic – thinly sliced

Red pepper flakes – 1/2 to 1 tsp

1 medium onion – chopped

3/4 cup of fresh basil leaves – torn

2TBS fresh oregano – chopped

Salt and pepper

Add olive oil to pan ( I used my braising pan)

Squish the tomatoes into a bowl and set aside

Add onion and garlic to pan and sauté till onions are soft and translucent and garlic is fragrant

Add the tomatoes and pepper flakes to the pan, cover and simmer for about 20-25 minutes until sauce thickens.

Add the basil leaves and oregano, season with salt and pepper

I cooked the linguine and would have added it directly to the pan except that this batch of sauce was huge.  I scooped out enough sauce to fill a quart container and then added the pasta to the pan.

I sprinkled it with grated parmigiano-romano cheese and served it in the braising pan.

 

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