When it comes to grocery shopping I’ve always been and continue to be a perpetual skeptic when it comes to people trying to convince I need to buy certain “types” of anything. Unless there is a compelling reason why I need to buy a certain variety or food, I’m usually always motivated by price. This is something I learned from experience growing up in a family of six kids on a very limited income.
But every once in awhile a certain food item will stand out for superior quality which elevates my eating experience so much, to splurge makes it completely worth it. This is the case with San Marzano tomatoes.
San Marzano tomatoes is a variety of tomatoes grown in volcanic soil in Italy. They are more sweet than acidic compared to Roma tomatoes and are far superior than any other type of tomato you can buy from a can.
It was two years ago when I first started cooking with San Marzano tomatoes. Typically priced at least $1 more than the other canned tomatoes, I was convinced before ever taking one bite all the hype surrounding these tomatoes was just that.. hype. I don’t know why I believed this other than seeing one too many celebrity chefs on tv cook with this type of tomato – it had to be a marketing ploy. But it was reading about these tomatoes on Orangette and Smitten Kitchen which softened my cynical buying ways to convince me to give San Marzano tomatoes a try.
Warning, once you go San Marzano you will never go back. They are a life changer when it comes to cooking with tomatoes in the kitchen. I repeat… save your pennies because they are worth it.
These tomatoes are magic. They actually make you look like a better cook than you really are. When used to make pizza, tomato soup, or a marinara sauce, San Marzano tomatoes makes me look so ridiculously good.
I usually always have a can or two in my cupboard for when company comes over and I need a go to meal or when I do not have anything else to cook. People who don’t even like spaghetti love when I make marinara sauce – especially kids. I’m also often asked for recipes when I used these tomatoes in dishes – I always give credit back to these types of tomatoes. You could say I am a San Marzano evangelist.
Today I would like to share with you a basic San Marzano Marinara Sauce also known as Pomodoro slightly adapted from Marcella Hazan. This recipe will win you over – not because of anything I’ve created but all because of the San Marzano tomatoes. Enjoy!
PS: Don’t even try to make this using anything other than San Marzano tomatoes – you will be disappointed with the results and doing so will rob you of the joy of eating one of my most favorite foods I’ve had the pleasure to eat.
Update: Thanks to you all who have brought it to my attention that Marcella Hazan should be credited with this recipe. I originally discovered this recipe through Orangette and Smitten Kitchen as mentioned above. But yes, she should get credit where credit is due!
Also, a few of you have brought up the fact that these particular tomatoes that I’ve used for this recipe are from the US and not Italy. All things set aside as far as orgin, I have made this recipe numerous times using Hunts and other types of tomatoes and it is not the same. Stricly based on flavor, the tomatoes in this particular green, white, and red branded can are better. I usually buy them on sale and a 28-ounce can goes for $2.99 on sale, normally $3.99 in Seattle.
- 1 – 28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes (whole peeled)
- 1 medium onion, cut in half and outer peel removed
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- Place all the ingredients in a medium sauce pan with the onion faced cut side down. Using a spoon or another kitchen device like a whisk or a potato masher, press each whole tomato down until it bursts.
- Place a cover on the pot and bring the sauce to boil for 3 minutes and then reduce the heat to a medium low. Cook the sauce on a low simmer for 45 minutes, stirring once.
- Spoon the sauce over your favorite pasta.