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Simple San Marzano Tomato Sauce

If you read my recent post about mine and Max’s pasta date night in, you know one of the courses we made was homemade spaghetti with tomato sauce. We used our Philip’s Pasta Maker to make the spaghetti and paired it with a super simple tomato sauce which I’ve been using for years.

With any meal I’m creating, I try to use the fewest ingredients possible while still ensuring the final product has maximum flavor. To achieve this, I always use the best quality ingredients I can find, which eliminates the need to artificially enhance the taste of a dish with ingredients that may be less fresh and less healthy. Tomato sauce is no exception to this principle, in fact, this sauce has 5 ingredients and takes less than 15 minutes to prepare.

simple san Marzano tomato sauce

The key to its delicious flavor is to use real San Marzano tomatoes. San Marzano tomatoes are grown in the volcanic soil around Mount Vesuvius in Italy, which makes them sweeter and less acidic than other tomatoes. They also have less seeds than other tomato varieties, making them ideal for cooking. Their flavor is so distinct that Neapolitan pizza, which is largely considered the best pizza in Italy, cannot truly be called Neapolitan unless the sauce is made with San Marzano tomatoes. Yes, there are actual regulations that specify this. Having spent a significant amount of time in Italy myself (Max and I used to spend a few months per year there for work), I can assure you the hype is real. These tomatoes completely change the flavor of a sauce in a way that other tomato varieties simply cannot.

The only downside to using San Marzano tomatoes in the United States is that you must buy them canned AND there is widespread fraud when it comes to labeling tomatoes as “San Marzano”. You read that correctly, the tomatoes are so delicious that there are actual fake replicas being peddled at your local supermarket – so basically they are the Chanel of tomatoes.

So, how do you know if you are buying authentic, San Marzano tomatoes or a fake? First, make sure the tomatoes you are buying carries the DOP certification from Italy which ensures that it was locally grown and packaged. I know this seems like a no brainer, but one of the most famous brand of “San Marzano” tomatoes found in U.S. supermarkets literally says “Grown in the United States” on the can. They are also only sold canned, peeled, and whole or cut in half – they will never be diced or chopped.

Now, on to the important part, the actual recipe! Once you’ve found your San Marzano tomatoes, preparing them is the easy part.

Simply heat fresh, chopped garlic with olive oil in a large saucepan for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, fresh basil, and salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine all ingredients.

Using a wooden spoon to gradually break up tomatoes, allow sauce to heat through on medium while stirring often. This should take roughly 10 minutes.

simple san Marzano tomato sauce

Once all of the tomatoes are fully incorporated, remove sauce from heat. At this point, you can feel free to serve your sauce with pasta or meat or you can store it for future use. However, I prefer my sauce a bit less chunky so I blend it slightly before serving. If you choose to do this step,  transfer sauce to a large, high-speed blender. I use my Vitamix for this and it contains all of the sauce at one time but if you have a smaller blender you can do this in batches. Blend to your desired consistency – I usually only blend for a few seconds.

Return sauce to saucepan and reheat on low if necessary. Add pasta and thoroughly coat. Plate, garnish, and serve while hot!

simple san Marzano tomato sauce

We made our spaghetti at home but you can also use any pasta of your choosing. This sauce would also be delicious with meatballs as well!

If you love this recipe, be sure to try my Nut-Free Pesto and Cacio e Pepe sauces which we also made together on our date night in!

San Marzano Tomato Sauce
  • 1 lb whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  1. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan

  2. Add chopped garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes over medium heat

  3. Add tomatoes, fresh basil, salt, and pepper

  4. Using a wooden spoon, stir to combine all ingredients

  5. Allow sauce to heat while stirring often and gradually breaking up the tomatoes

  6. Once tomatoes are fully broken up and sauce is heated through (about 10 minutes), remove sauce from heat and transfer to a high-speed blender (note: you can blend in batches if your blender is not large enough to accommodate all sauce at once). 

  7. Blend to desired consistency and return to saucepan (reheat on low if necessary). Note: you may also skip this step if you desire a chunkier sauce!

  8. Serve over pasta, meat, or any other desired dish!

By Paces West

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