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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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Yes I do like to cook…BUT not always!  After all, living in NYC, the capitol of take-out and delivered food makes it really easy to never have to cook.   Not to mention the late late serving hours in many restaurants and the neighborhood Coffee Shop that’s open 24 hours.  Can you imagine how liberating and indulgent that is?  If you can’t sleep and you think a Belgian Waffle would hit the spot, you can just pick up the phone at 3:00 am and in 15 minutes you can be pouring maple syrup over a steaming hot waffle.

Ok I digress…this past week, I’ve been cooking every night and one of the main reasons is economics.  I’m not making Beef Wellington, or Lobster Bisque.  I served up some yummy food and none of the meals cost a lot.

I started off making a batch of Butternut Squash Soup.  This savory version of a root vegetable soup came from the latest issue of Wegman’s MENU magazine.  It’s not as thick and rich as some other recipes, however, it has a flavorful twist.   Here it is:

1 TBS olive oil

1 cup of chopped onion

1 cup of thinly sliced leeks

1 cup thinly sliced celery

1 TBS chopped garlic

2 bay leaves

2 tsp salt

pepper to taste

2 pkgs of cleaned, cut butternut squash (20 oz ea.) or 3 lbs bulk squash cut in 1 inch dice

2 cartons of vegetable broth ( I used chicken broth)

2 TBS amber maple syrup

pumpkin seed oil ( I didn’t have any)

toasted pumpkin seeds (had those and toasted them)

You’ll need a stockpot and a blender

Heat olive oil in stockpot on MEDIUM.  Add onions, leeks, celery, garlic, and bay leaves;  season with 2 tsp salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring, 10 minutes till softened bu not browned.

Add squash and stock.  Increase heat to MEDIUM-HIGH.  Bring to a simmer, cover, vented.  Reduce heat to LOW; simmer 20-25 minutes.

Turn off heat.  Remove bay leaves.  Stir in maple syrup.  Working in batches, add soup to blender.  Puree till smooth, pouring pureed soup into another pot.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Ladle soup into warmed serving bowls, garnish each with 1 tsp pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil.

The next day I got the stockpot out and made one of favorite winter Wegman’s recipes;  Slow-Cooked Beef Minestrone.  I  posted this truly economical and delicious recipe previously -see post at https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/slow-cooked-beef-minestrone/

On another night  we had veggie burgers and as a side dish I made Pan Steamed Cauliflower, also a Wegman’s MENU magazine recipe.  This is a great way to prepare  vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tsp chopped garlic

1 anchovy fillet (in the jar, not tin) or 1  1/2 tsp capers

1 – 1  1/2 lb trimmed vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, romanescu, brocoletti, green beans)

1/2 cup water

1 tsp salt

cracked black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil, garlic, and anchovy on MEDIUM-LOW.  Cook, stirring, 2-3 minutes (until anchovy dissolves).

Raise heat to HIGH.  Add vegetables, water, and salt. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer; cover.  Cook, stirring occasionally 8-12 minutes or until water is evaporated. 

Season to taste with pepper.  Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice, grated cheese or red pepper flakes, if desired.

My husband loves pasta so we don’t go too many days without a pasta night.  I decided to make a special sauce – Wegman’s San Marzano Tomato Sauce.  This was Soooo Goooood.   I will post the recipe for you but not today because I just previewed this post and it’s already getting long.  And to finish up my Wegman’s Week,  I prepared Chicken Breasts with a Lemon Caper Sauce -I’ll post that one later too.

Wegman's brand,

San Marzano Tomatoes

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