Mauro Cooking with San Marzano Tomatoes
Cooking is not about fancy spices or complicated dishes; it’s about simplicity, honesty, and the freshest ingredients you can find. Before you can start preparing a meal, you have to start with the basics, the foundation. When thinking about pasta, remember that your sauce is the building block and the quality of ingredients used will make the dish honest. For this reason, I start with the most basic of ingredients, tomatoes.
Like other chefs from all over the world, I prefer to use San Marzano tomatoes from the Campania Region of Italy. First grown in the volcanic soil at the base of Mount Versuvius, they are a varietal of plum tomatoes that are thin and pointy with very few seeds, not to mention they peel easily for smooth prep work. Considered a bittersweet flavor, San Marzanos add a sweeter finish to any sauce and are designated as the only tomatoes that can be used for a true Napoletana Pizza.
According to the stories, the first seeds were a gift from the Kingdom of Peru to the Kingdom of Naples in 1770 but this is sadly only a myth. There was actually no king of Peru at the time and tomato specimens were brought over from the New World to Central Europe by European explorers long before 1770. Originally tomatoes were thought to be poisonous and used merely as decorations but they quickly became a staple throughout the world. Thank goodness!
So, the next time you’re in the mood to practice your sauce cooking skills remember to balance the flavors, use fresh ingredients and don’t overcook pasta for nobody.