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Giada's Essential Italian Dishes: Parmesan Pomodoro

Everything you need to know to master the pure simplicity of the perfect tomato sauce


Every cuisine has its core recipes, the fundamental dishes and techniques that set it apart from the rest of the world. I'm breaking down my 10 essential Italian dishes, sharing everything you need to know to master them and become a superstar Italian cook.
What It Is: We have North America to thank for this classically Italian sauce. Tomatoes are not native to Europe, but were discovered during the Renaissance by explorers who traveled to the New World. They were brought back as an exotic souvenir, but they weren't an immediate hit. Many cautious Europeans even thought they were poisonous! 
It wasn't until the 1800s that Italian chefs began to recognize the tomato's delicious versatility, cooking them down into a sweet, simple sauce known as pomodoro. (Fun fact: the first tomatoes grown in Italy had a yellowish-orange hue, and so were called pomodoro, "golden apple.")  
Why I Love It: Sweet, savory, and packed with an umami punch, a great pomodoro sauce and some spaghetti is all you need for a delicious dinner. But it's also a goes-with-everything base that can be used as a layer in lasagna, a bed to nestle juicy meatballs, and so much more. 
How It's Done: When your recipe only calls for a few ingredients, every one of them needs to be impeccable! I use high-quality canned San Marzano tomatoes from the region outside Naples, which are sweeter and meatier than some watery canned varieties. And I crush the tomatoes by hand, to put a little extra love in the sauce. A rind of parmigiano reggiano adds that umami boost - skip the domestic parmesan here, which doesn't bring the same nutty intensity. (I save my rinds in the freezer and pull them out whenever I'm making soups or sauces.) 
To keep your pomodoro's flavor light and bright, don't simmer it too long. Once the carrots are cooked through, about 30 minutes, you're ready to dig in!

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