Balsamic vinegar & a little brown sugar set off summer sauce
Pasta was on the docket when vegetarian friends were coming for dinner. I vacillated between cheese tortellini from the freezer and farmers’ market organic fettuccine that I would make with some kind of tomato sauce — either fresh tomatoes and herbs from the garden, or a sauce based on a canned San Marzanos.
We never have enough fresh tomatoes ripening at the same time for a decent amount of sauce, so supplemental San Marzanos were called for. San Marzano tomatoes, like Roma tomatoes, are a type of plum tomatoes. I often by fresh Romas in the market, but when it comes to canned tomatoes, I pay extra for San Marzanos. The flesh is thicker and they have fewer seeds than other varieties. They are grown in volcanic soil around Mt. Vesuvius, and their taste is stronger, sweeter and less acidic than Romas. In the end, I decided the tortellini would be heartier, and I combined the two kinds of tomato with inspiration from an online recipe for a tomato and Balsamic sauce. This was my very simple-to-prepare version:
Tomato and Balsamic Vinegar Sauce
1 pinch brown sugar
1/4 cup good-quality Balsamic vinegar
1 lb. fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 16-oz can San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste)
1/2 teaspoon +/- kosher salt
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaf, thinly sliced
Parmesan cheese, grated on a microplane
In a large bowl, dissolve brown sugar in the Balsamic vinegar. Add the chopped tomatoes canned tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper and salt. Add one pound of cooked, drained pasta to sauce and mix to coat thoroughly, making sure that the pasta and tomato sauce are evenly distributed. Add to the pasta mixture and toss. Top with grated Parmesan and serve.