Thursday, September 19, 2013

San Marzano Tomato Sauce: From Garden to Table

Because of our  battle with the grasshopper and drought, I can only claim a few small successes in my garden this year.  There are 4 tomato plants, 4 beet plants, a few rows of onions and garlic and a container of potatoes still alive and well.  The fact that anything survived at all is a wonderful thing to me, and the fact that I actually got a bumper crop from my 2 San Marzano Tomato plants is joy.  I have tried for the last 2 years to grow  San Marzano Tomatoes from the seeds my Mom sent me, and haven't had very good success, but this year,  in spite of all my other failures, here they are growing and healthy.  If I get around to figuring out what I did "right" in this instance I will be sure to let you know.     Was it the drought and grasshopper pruning at the beginning of summer, or the extra extremes I went to to protect and coddle them, or the huge abundance of rain we got at the end of summer that did the trick...I don't know, but something went well with them.  So I'm celebrating.  I want to share my Tomato Sauce with you.  In our family we have a "thing" for the perfect Spaghetti Sauce, and the way we talk about it and enjoy it makes me think we have  Italian  somewhere in our blood line.  I don't always get to start with garden fresh tomatoes,  but when I do, well, its an extra bonus.

To us  the best spaghetti sauce is a simple sauce with only a few ingredients; Tomatoes, Olive oil, onions, garlic, basil, salt and pepper, and I love it best when all the ingredients are fresh from the garden or farmers maker.

 1.  Pick your tomatoes.

2.  Look at them a little, admire them, enjoy their delightful shape, their color and
     their musty smell. This is an essential part of enjoying them don't you think?
3.  Bring a large pan or stock pot  of water to boil.
4.  Place a large bowl of ice within reach of the boiling water.
5.  Put your tomatoes into the boiling water  for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
6.  Remove them with  a strainer and put right into the ice.
7.  With a sharp knife take a hold of the skin and just pull right off.

8. Once you have all of your skinless tomatoes, take each one in hand and squeeze it over
    another bowl, to squeeze out the seeds. It seems a little funny just squeezing it; but it works, so       squeeze away.  You will not get them all, but you will get the majority of them.

 9.   Pour the seeds into a a strainer and strain the juice from the seeds.
10.  Now add the strained juice back in with the tomatoes.
11.  Put olive oil, minced garlic and chopped onion into a large skillet. Saute until tender.
12.  Add tomatoes and juice.
13.  Simmer for 10 minutes.
14.  Mash tomatoes with a potato masher (for a crushed tomatoe sauce), or use your hand
       held blender to blend until smooth. 

15.   Add basil and simmer another 30 to 40 minutes or until the color goes from bright red to a more orange red.

  And now you have a wonderful Marinara Sauce for spaghetti or pizza or any other Italian
  dish you might like.

    This makes the best sauce as is, but is also great with  ground meat or meatballs.

 "Mangia, Mangia"

San Marzano Marinara Sauce

You, can of course use any tomatoes for this recipe.  I have used all kinds.  The San Marzano is a wonderful, meaty, Plum tomato with a delicious flavor and makes a great marinara sauce.  It is a gourmet favorite these days, and is often called for  in good Italian recipes.

3 - 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 a medium onion finely chopped
3 - 4 cloves garlic minced
1 small handful fresh basil chopped/ or 1 - 1 1/2  Tablespoons dried basil
5 -6 cups skinned San Marzano Tomatoes with juice
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet,  heat oil and lightly sauté onion and garlic until tender.  Add the tomatoes and juice and simmer for 10 minutes.  Mash tomatoes with a potato masher for a crushed tomato sauce, or use your hand held blender to blend until smooth.  Add basil and simmer for 30 -40 minutes or until tomato sauce has turned from a deep bright red to an orange color.   Add salt and pepper to taste.  At this point you can serve over pasta, or add meatballs or cooked ground meat and serve with spaghetti.


  1. Good Morning, I will be making eggplant for dinner this weekend.
    I think making my sauce early in the day and letting it cook and marry the flavors is so tasty!
    I do add a pinch of Baking Soda in my sauces to bring down the acid level. As my tummy does not like too much of that acid.
    The tomatoes do look like a precious jewel in their box!
    Blessings, Roxy

  2. Wow Mom!!! Mmmmmm!! My mouth is drooling just looking, reading and remembering! Your tomatoes are so lovely!! So very glad you shared this recipe. I love you!!

  3. I have to repeat what Elizabeth already said, WOW MOM!!!! Mmmmmm mmmm. This looks and SOUNDS amazing! Oh please let me come over and have a plate with you right now!!!

    I love your directions, I learned so much. I don't know anything about tomatoes, only that I love them. I am just now realizing that you might be italian!