Delicious authentic Italian tomato sauce doesn’t have to take all day! My quick San Marzano tomato sauce is done in 15 minutes and has a bright fresh flavor.
There are almost as many styles of making tomato sauce as there are tomato sauce loving folks out there. Me, I like my sauce quick, fresh, and on the thin side. I don’t cook my tomatoes down for hours into a thick paste. (I even love a great no-cook fresh tomato sauce in high summer!) Today I’m making my quick and easy San Marzano tomato sauce made with Italy’s famous San Marzano tomatoes and very little else! We’ll make it in about 15 minutes.
did you know?
San Marzano tomatoes are originally from the San Marzano region near Naples, Italy, where they’ve been grown for centuries. Authentic San Marzano tomatoes are known as “San Marzano DOP” (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta), and are protected under Italian law to ensure authenticity and quality. The DOP designation (look for it on the can label) means that these tomatoes must be grown in a specific area and follow strict standards to be labeled as San Marzano.
what you’ll need to make a quick San Marzano tomato sauce
Take my advice and stock your pantry with several cans of San Marzano tomatoes. You’ll never be more than a few minutes away from a great homemade tomato sauce.
- 28 ounce can whole San Marzano Tomatoes
- When purchasing canned tomatoes, look for the official DOP label to ensure you are getting the genuine product, or at least make sure your tomatoes are labeled San Marzano.
- extra virgin olive oil
- the great Marcella Hazan uses butter in her simple tomato sauce, so you have a choice!
- coarse salt
- white or red wine vinegar
- fresh herbs
why do chefs always recommend whole canned tomatoes?
By definition whole canned tomatoes are less processed than chopped or pureed. And they don’t contain additives that are sometimes in chopped tomatoes to maintain their shape during canning. It’s also reasonable to assume that better tomatoes are reserved for packing whole, but in any case, whole tomatoes are the best choice for just about any recipe.
how to make San Marzano tomato sauce, step by step
Note this is an extremely simple recipe that allows the flavor of the tomatoes to shine.
Step 1. Sauté garlic in olive oil
Be sure to use a non-reactive pot (stainless steel, glass, enamel-coated cast iron, or ceramic.) Cooking tomatoes in a reactive pot like aluminum or copper can cause a chemical reaction wth acidic foods like tomatoes that alters the taste of the food and can even be harmful to your health.
Step 2. Add canned whole San Marzano tomatoes
I’ll rinse out the can with a little wine or water and add to the pan as well. If you’d like to do that with wine, go for it!
Step 3. Bring to a bubble and simmer for 15 minutes
Break apart the tomatoes with your spoon as they cook.
Step 4. Optional: puree the sauce with an immersion blender
I don’t want to get it completely smooth ~ I leave some texture in the sauce. Just a few bursts with the blender is perfect.
Step 5. Taste and adjust
Give your sauce a taste and season with salt and pepper. Add a dash of vinegar if it needs a pop of acidity (mine did.) Blend in fresh herbs if you like. A few basil leaves are wonderful.
Step 6. Use or store
You can use your sauce right away, or let cool and refrigerate or freeze for later. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, and in the freezer for 3-4 months.
to freeze homemade san Marzano tomato sauce
- Cool homemade tomato sauce to room temperature (it’s unsafe to freeze warm food.)
- Choose freezer-safe containers or bags.
- Optionally, portion the sauce for individual servings.
- Label and date each container/bag.
- Remove air from freezer bags before sealing.
- Freeze containers/bags lying flat for even freezing.
- Use within 3 to 4 months for best quality.
how to use your San Marzano tomato sauce
- homemade pizza
- pasta sauce
- Baked fish like cod cakes or baked sole.
- Any time you’d use canned or jarred tomato sauce (like spaghetti and meatball soup or sausage and peppers.)
more Mediterranean recipes to try
- Mediterranean Bean Salad
- Mediterranean Artichoke Salad
- Mediterranean Sheet Pan Salmon
- Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Tuna
- Mediterranean Cauliflower Couscous Salad
- Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Shrimp
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Tuna
Quick San Marzano Tomato Sauce
- a non-reactive steel or enameled cast iron pot
- white or red wine vinegar
- dried or fresh herbs such as basil, thyme, rosemary
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the garlic for a couple of minutes, stirring almost constantly.
- Add the canned tomatoes and bring to a bubble. Turn down the heat and simmer, breaking apart the tomatoes with the back of your spoon, for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally so nothing scorches on the bottom of the pan.
- Taste your sauce and add salt to taste. Add some vinegar if you'd like a pop of acidity (I did.)
- Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce to your desired consistency. If you would like to add herbs, either fresh or dried, add them now and blend them into the sauce.
- Use the sauce right away or let cool and refrigerate. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, and in the freezer for 3-4 months.
- Rinse the tomatoes thoroughly under cool running water to remove any dirt or debris.
- Use a sharp knife to remove the tough stem and core from the top of each tomato.
- On the bottom of each tomato, make a shallow “X” shape with your knife. This will help loosen the skin during blanching.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a rolling boil.
- Carefully drop the cored and scored tomatoes into the boiling water. Allow them to blanch for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice water. This shock of cold water will stop the cooking process and make it easier to peel off the skins.
- Once the tomatoes are cool, you can easily peel off the skin starting from where you made the “X” mark.
- Proceed with the above recipe.