As if it wasn’t amazing enough to travel to Italy to learn all about San Marzano tomatoes (read more about that here), I’d say the BEST part was the many ways I enjoyed eating San Marzano tomatoes.
Prior to my trip, my guess is I only had San Marzano tomatoes in the most basic forms in pasta or pizza sauce. But now after visiting the birthplace of San Marzano tomatoes right outside of Naples, not only did I get to enjoy fresh San Marzano tomatoes straight from the vine in the tomato fields themselves, but I also tasted some classic and unique preparations. Here’s a list of some of the ways we enjoy San Marzano tomatoes in Italy:
Caprese Salad– With Buffalo mozzarella being one of the stars of Italian cuisine, and especially in Naples, I enjoyed daily caprese salads (not even kidding!). The Buffalo mozzarella was sliced (or sometimes presented as one giant ball that you would slice on your own at the table!) served with fresh, sliced San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil and drizzled with olive oil. Pretty sure no Caprese Salad will ever compare to these in Italy.
Bruschetta– Diced, fresh San Marzano tomatoes with fresh basil, and garlic mixed in olive oil and topped on toasted bread. A perfect appetizer. How does it get better than that? It does not. 😊
Pizza– When you are in the city that is called “the birthplace of pizza” you better believe I was eating pizza on the daily! Not only that, but Naples is also best known for their style of pizza called Neapolitan style pizza (pizza Napoletana) which is created from the simplest, yet fresh ingredients; the crust (made from flour, yeast, salt and water), hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes, Buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil leaves and olive oil. That’s it! The pizza is baked in a special type of wood-burning oven for only 90 seconds and is eaten immediately after coming out of the oven. We actually had the chance to do a pizza making class with a pizza master (pizzaiolo), so I got to experience firsthand how it is all done.
Pasta Pomodoro– The Italians know how to do it; use only the freshest ingredients and keep it simple. One of the best and most basic pasta dishes I had included freshly made spaghetti, a simple sauce of San Marzano tomatoes, topped with fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano. That’s it. When you eat the best and most authentic food, it’s hard to eat anything else. Definitely have been spoiled!
Eggplant Parmigiana– The eggplant parmesan we eat here in the US is very different than that which is served in Italy. The dish we ate in Italy more resembles a lasagna, where the layers are created with thinly sliced, eggplant, Buffalo mozzarella, and a sauce from San Marzano tomatoes and basil. The dish is then baked, cut, topped with fresh parmesan and served just like lasagna. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the US version of eggplant parmesan (which are deep fried slabs of eggplant topped with tomato sauce and cheese and then broiled), but I do like the traditional Italian version way better!
Gnocchi– We also had the chance to do a gnocchi making class at a restaurant right in the heart of Naples. Here we made a flour-based gnocchi (as opposed to the traditional potato or ricotta based gnocchi) and learned how to make a San Marzano tomato based sauce to go with it. The cool thing is the chef showed us two different preparations of the sauce, but with the same ingredients. Namely, the San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil and salt. It was incredible how different the two sauces tasted, even though they had the same ingredients! Either way, this gnocchi was so delicious.
Ice cream topped with candied, dried San Marzano tomatoes-Definitely the most unique way we enjoyed San Marzano tomatoes was in the dried, candied form on top of vanilla bean ice cream as a dessert. When you have access to the fresh form of these tomatoes right in Italy, I’m sure there are so many innovative ways to include them in dishes and even desserts! So happy we got to try this sweet option.
As you can see, I sincerely enjoyed the many ways we ate and appreciated San Marzano tomatoes. You can definitely take my word on it, but the better option would be for you to go to Italy and try it for yourself. Let me know if you do!
Please Note: While this post is in collaboration with Associazione Nazionale Industriali Conserve Alimentari Vegetali (Anicav), all opinions are my own.