Monday, December 5, 2011

Simply San Marzano?

What is my obsession with marinara sauces? Previously, I made a tasty tomato sauce using a Bon Appetit recipe and techniques which promised and delivered a better pasta experience. But if you read the recipe it requires a food processor and I just don't want to spend the time to clean it after. For this recipe, I tried a  simpler using slightly different and fewer ingredients:
Serves 4
1 - 28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
2 table spoons of good olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely diced (kinda garlicky so scale down if you don't like garlic)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
accidental amount of sea salt (helpful, yes? maybe...1 teaspoon)
a few grinds of black pepper
chopped fresh basil (optional)
1 lb of fresh linguine

In a nut shell, San Marzano tomatoes are regulated heirloom tomatoes from San Marzano, Italy. The tomatoes have a sweeter less acidic flavors compared to Roma tomatoes which is what we usually find in "canned tomatoes". San Marzano canned tomatoes have their own special regulatory stamp of authenticity which of course makes them more expensive. Read the wiki here.

I don't know for sure if these tomatoes made this sauce so tasty or if it's the rest of the recipe. Either way, give it a try. San Marzanos run about $2 more than your normal can of tomatoes (which in my store is about $1.99). I did notice that the tomatoes seemed to be a brighter red and the juice it was sitting in seemed thicker than my normal can of tomatoes. Onto the recipe:

Heat up the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced garlic, allowing it to sizzle until quite fragrant. Add pinch of red pepper flakes. Don't let the garlic burn / turn brown because then it'll be bitter.

Pour in full can of tomatoes. Add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste (about two 2" squirts if you're using a tube). Stir sauce and use the spoon to start mashing down the whole tomatoes. Allow sauce to simmer over medium low heat for ~ 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. I threw in a couple basil leaves toward the last 15 minutes that I later removed before serving.

Halfway through the cooking time, take a careful taste of the sauce. Add salt as needed. Or accidentally drop a chunk of salt into the sauce like I did, try to scoop it out, not find it, and then realize after that actually that was the right amount of salt. So really use your taste buds here to figure out what that amount is. I'm guessing 1.5 teaspoons.
Meanwhile cook the fresh pasta per the directions on the package and drain, set aside. Fresh pasta has such a different texture, if you haven't tried it you should! I haven't eaten much until recently and I really like it! There's more bounce to the bite. Some call that "toothsome." I call it yummy. The pasta  I bought suggested 3-5 minutes. I did 4, I probably would have been better at 3. Don't forget to reserve about a 1/2 cup of pasta water toward the end of the cooking time.

When sauce is done, remove from heat. Add a few tablespoons of pasta water to loosen it and spoon over fresh pasta. Twirl to incorporate. Add fresh chopped basil.
I can't tell you how much I love a bowl of carbs. The sauce was pretty tasty - I noticed that it's not as tart as using regular tomatoes and the flavor seemed deeper somehow. Next time I'll make a batch and freeze them in little Ziplocs for individual weeknight sized portions.

What's your favorite tomato sauce recipe?


lavenderpug said...

ooh i love a good and simple tomato sauce. i bet the tomato paste goes a long way in upping the tomato flavor, in addition to the san marzanos--i will have to try this!

Amanda said...

Mmm I'm a sucker for a good tomato sauce! That looks fabulous!

BigAppleNosh said...

Oooh looks so simple and delicious!

Jennie said...

looks yummy! I'll have to try out the tomatoes. It's probably better to get those than to add sugar to my sauces ;)

the subway tiles look nice btw.