Pomodoro, the iconic sauce made from red tomatoes, is a staple of many Italian pasta and pizza recipes. But did you know that pomodoro sauce is relatively new on the Italian food scene? First cultivated by the ancient Aztecs, tomatoes originated from South America. The fruit was foreign to Italian dining culture until its arrival to Europe in the 16th century. But even then, tomatoes were considered a taboo ingredient.
Starting in the 19th century, tomatoes became a popular contributor to Italian cuisine.
However, it wasn’t until the rise of the pasta production industry in the 20th century that pomodoro became a mainstay of classic Italian pasta and pizza dishes.
Low in calories and big in flavour, pomodoro sauce is naturally high in vitamin C and a good source of vitamin A.
Great pomodoro sauce is simply made with great tomatoes, those that are fresh, plump and fully ripened. The perfect sauce is achieved by roughly chopping up the tomatoes and cooking them on a low heat, stirring until the sauce has reached a thick consistency. Traditionally, the sauce is used to make pasta pomodoro, as a pizza sauce or served over polpette (meatballs).
San Marzano in Italy’s Campania region is considered the source of some of Italy’s best tomatoes because they preserve well for later use as pasta or pizza sauce. Here, the tomatoes are hand-picked from the vine, and often enjoyed raw.
The Emilia-Romagna region is another popular tomato cultivation zone. While Italy’s climate and soil lend itself to the famous red tomatoes, the fruit comes in many colours including yellow, green and white.
Today, tomatoes are widely grown worldwide, with Italy ranking third in world production.