We’ll never look at our bolognaise the same way again!
Any Ina Garten fan will recognize the simple red, green and white façade of the culinary maven’s favorite canned tomatoes. And, because the Barefoot Contessa has impeccable taste in all things, it should come as no surprise that the only tomatoes Garten uses are widely considered the crème de la crème: San Marzanos. But what exactly are they, and more importantly, are they worth the money?
According to The Kitchn, San Marzano tomatoes are a specific variety grown in one particular region of Italy: the Agro Sarnese Nocerino of the Sarno River Valley near Mount Vesuvius. These crimson fruits are so special that they even have official status as a "protected designation of origin" or D.O.P—much like Champagne from the Champagne region of France.
But are they really that special? The short answer is yes. As Epicurious recently explained, San Marzanos are famous for their “sweetness and their tomato-ey intensity, plus a delicate acidity that can balance out rich meats and cheeses.”
Basically, San Marzano tomatoes weren’t an arbitrary addition to Garten’s holier than holy list of recommended ingredients. And it’s no coincidence that they play a starring role in some of her most popular recipes, including her weeknight bolognaise and classic marina.
WATCH: See Ina Garten's Actual Home Kitchen
So you can imagine our surprise when The Kitchn pointed out that the brand of canned San Marzano tomatoes ($9; 28 oz.; amazon.com) Garten so aggressively touts aren’t even grown in Italy.
It’s not like it’s a big secret, the label even says that the tomatoes are "Grown Domestically in the U.S," but we were admittedly disappointed to find out that the Barefoot Contessa’s go-to tomatoes aren't the real deal— they're just named after it. Athough this fact probably also means they are a little cheaper.
Are they still delicious? Of course, but we’d be lying if we said we didn’t feel a little duped.