In southern France, ratatouille is offered as a side dish in most restaurants. It’s comparable to our “steamed vegetables”–broccoli and carrots, but much healthier and tasteful. This recipe recommends the traditional method of preparation and the results are amazing! Ratatouille can be served in an omelet, over eggs, over pasta, or alone. Here, it’s combined with the super grain Quinoa and tasty pine nuts…High quality olive oil and San Marzano tomatoes make a big difference in the flavor of ratatouille.
San Marzano tomatoes are Italian tomatoes, grown in the volcanic grounds of Campania, near Mount Vesuvius, and have a very distinct and rich flavor. Their elongated shape resembles what Americans know as “plum” tomatoes, but San Marzano tomatoes are less acidic and have fewer seeds than a conventional plum tomato.
San Marzano Labeling
In Italy, there are strict labeling rules regarding San Marzanos. The label must include the DOP, (the Italian protected designation of origin), which entails strict requirements for the growth and production of these red beauties. In American grocery stores, there are several brands that label their tomatoes as San Marzano on the front, but the ingredient list labels them as “San Marzano style tomatoes”. Tomatoes labeled as such are not true San Marzano’s; it’s like buying a knock-off Louis Vuitton bag…it’s not the real deal.
A true San Marzano tomato brand will include the DOP on the front and a round seal with a series of production numbers underneath. The front label might read something like, “San Marzano Tomato of Agro Sarnese-Nocerino area D.O.P” or “Pomodoro S. Marzano dell ’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino D.O.P.” The label will also indicate the product is produced and packed in Italy, as well as a statement of certification (in Italian). As one might expect, these Italian tomatoes cost more than the “San Marzano style” but the difference in taste is definitely worth the cost.