This spring, I planted a San Marzano tomato plant (as well as two other varieties). I’d never tried this variety, but I figured it was worth a shot.
If I had to do it over again, I’d plant three. Maybe four. That’s how excited I’ve been about them. I’m already making plans for next spring to expand my tomato planting.
The tomatoes from this plant got going a bit later than others, and I thought maybe I was going to have another year buying most of my summer tomatoes from the farmer’s market. Especially since it seems I’ve had a rather poor gardening season so far – squash bugs devastated my zucchini and cucumbers, I have no idea why fire ants love my eggplant, and my lettuce got started late (I had surgery in March on my hip, so I wasn’t able to do some planting for a few weeks), so we only had a few salads before it bolted. (Truth is, I’m mostly a hack at gardening, and learn by trial, error, and a big dose of luck.) But here in the past two weeks, my little San Marzano plant really got going. I pulled off about 15 tomatoes in a week from one plant. I decided it was high time to make sauce. After all, San Marzano tomatoes really shine in a simple, fresh sauce.
I was excited about this sauce. After all, almost everything I tossed in there was from my garden, and if it wasn’t, it was from the farmer’s market. Talk about fresh. It was also super-easy. I didn’t even bother peeling the tomatoes, so it was a rough chop, a long simmer, and a brief visit in the blender, and I had delicious sauce that, dare I say, would rival any Italian grandmother’s.
I might get into major trouble with all Italian grandmothers for admitting that just now.
But really, it is good. Really really good. Hence why I want to plant more San Marzanos next year – so I can make massive quantities of this sauce, freeze or can it, and enjoy all year long. Having a sauce at the ready is awesome for a weeknight dinner (spaghetti in under 20 minutes!) or even a lasagna or baked ziti.
Of course, you don’t have to have fresh tomatoes to make this, so if you can’t find San Marzanos (Romas would be an excellent alternative), don’t fret. Canned tomatoes would work just as well. I’d definitely recommend canned over most of the grocery store tomatoes, especially in winter, as they are superior in taste and price. Your sauce will be just as delicious.
Garden-Fresh San Marzano Tomato Sauce (gluten-free, vegan)
2 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6-8 garlic cloves, chopped
1 t kosher salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
About 1/4 c fresh basil leaves
About 1 T fresh oregano leaves (you can substitute about 1 teaspoon dried)
3 1/2 pounds fresh San Marzano tomatoes, or other ripe summer tomato, chopped (I don’t bother peeling, but if you prefer, you can cut an “X” in the bottom of each tomato and drop into a pot of boiling water for about 60 seconds and remove. The skins should peel right off.)
1 cup dry red wine
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, deep skillet or pot. (I used my enameled Dutch oven.) Sauté the onion 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook for an additional minute, until the garlic is very fragrant. (Be careful not to burn!)
Add the tomatoes, basil, oregano, and wine, stirring to mix well.
Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce to a low simmer, and let cook for about an hour uncovered. Stir the sauce occasionally to make sure the sauce is not reducing too quickly.
Puree in a blender or in a food processor to your liking. If the sauce still seems thin, return to the pot and simmer until the sauce is thick to your liking. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
Makes 2 quarts.