September 26, 2004

san marzano sauce & tomatoes in mainstream supermarkets

Cento has a new line of sauces and cooked tomatoes packaged in jars rather than cans: San Marzano-based marinara and other pre-made sauces, plus some crushed tomatoes ready for use. I got pretty excited when I saw them on the shelf at Victory, because usually I have had to schlep to the North End or to Federal Hill in Providence, or at the very least to some Italian specialty market, to find San Marzanos. And San Marzanos *are* worth the hype; they really do taste different, richer, somehow stronger. Having them available from a mass-market producer in mainstream supermarkets would be just freaking awesome.

So I worried a bit that these new treasures wouldn't be that good, that they'd be just another marketing label slapped on some mundane tomatoes to move them at a higher price. But tonight a bunch of people came over for dinner, and it was so gorgeous out this weekend that I spent all my time out in the sunshine, not figuring out what to cook for a crowd... so I defrosted some spicy Italian sausages, boiled pasta, and turned to my cupboard for the new Cento treats. The marinara went over the sausages, and the crushed tomatoes went over some sauteed green beans, summer squash & garlic (with a parmesan rind in for some flavor*) for the vegetarians. Both tasted great -- and with such simple dishes, I can't really take much credit; it was all about the tomato flavor. No icky jarred-sauce sweetness or wacko off-flavors, just rich red meaty tomato goodness.

Let the word ring out across the land: San Marzanos in your local grocery at last!

(* I learned this trick, of putting an old hard parmesan rind into tomato sauce while it simmers, from a Cook's Illustrated recipe for cacciatore sauce. It works like a dream, and it saves me from trying to decide whether to keep trying to grate the nasty old rind or feel guilty about throwing it away. The sauce gets a subtle richness and depth that's hard to get otherwise. Yum.)

oh and ps: the new rigati pastas from Barilla are rocking my world. Those wee ridges look pretty and hold lots of sauce (I can never get enough sauce -- i know, i know, the Italians use way less sauce than Americans do, so sue me, I like sauce). My favorite is the bucatini rigati, but they've applied the texture to lots of strand-pastas and even some smaller shapes like tubes. I would link to Barilla's website for more info, but it is an unbelievably annoying collection of popups and other egregious interactivity. Gah!

Posted by foodnerd at September 26, 2004 11:05 PM

I really like Sugo di Pomidoro Marinara Sauce and I wondered if any of the main stream grocery stores in
Denver Colorado carry this product as well as other San Marzano products???

Posted by: Joan Oakes at March 6, 2008 10:14 AM
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