Traditionally, when making a pink sauce you have to first make a béchamel sauce and then mix that in with your red sauce. Lately, I’ve been substituting this delicious and ridiculously easy pink sauce. It saves me a heck of a lot of time in labor and dishes. It’s also a gluten-free sauce, which means my husband is happy. Rad.
The key to the sauce is the canned San Marzano tomatoes. If you haven’t tried San Marzanos, you should. Their taste is far superior—pretty much brighter, sweeter and tastier than plum tomatoes. Really.
Thankfully, these specialty tomatoes are now easily found at most markets. I’ve spied them at Vons, Whole Foods and even Trader Joe’s (TJ’s has the best price.) But watch out for tricky labels. “San Marzano Style” tomatoes are not the same thing as real San Marzanos. That style is basically adding a basil leaf to regular plum tomatoes.
I know this marketing switcheroo for a fact because the other day I was shopping in a hurry (well, more of a hurry than usual) and I swiped the SM styled tomatoes instead of my normal Cento brand San Marzanos and we tasted the difference.
A few years back I tried to grow San Marzano tomatoes and was unsuccessful. I grew tomatoes, but they lacked that lip-smacking flavor you get from their birthplace near Naples. (Am I right Marcella, or am I right?).
It takes tons of hot late spring and summer days to get that amazing flavor. We just don’t get that here in Santa Barbara. But I’ll take my mildly sunny, a little bit breezy and sometimes-foggy climate and a great tomato in a can any day.
Val’s Quick Pink Sauce
1 24 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, sliced or smashed
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
Heat oil on medium heat and add garlic, cook until you can smell the garlic. Add tomatoes (removing basil leaf from the can) and bring to boil. Now, pour yourself a glass of white wine. Once your tomatoes are boiling, add salt and simmer on stove for up to 1 hour, but at least 10-20 minutes. I like a strong simmer.
Stir occasionally, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon as it cooks. For a smooth and chunk free sauce (or to speed up your process as the kids are whining at your feet) puree it with a hand blender.
When you are ready to use the sauce, taste for seasoning and take the pan off the heat, add the cream and stir to incorporate. Taste for seasoning and enjoy on your favorite pasta, gnocchi, rice or fish or chicken, or even lapping it from your spoon as it cooks.