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.
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
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