For The Best Canned San Marzano Tomatoes, Look For One Addition

If you know canned tomatoes, then you know San Marzano tomatoes are the cream of the crop. Coming from Southern Italy around Mount Vesuvius, the volcanic soil in which San Marzano tomatoes are grown gives them a smoother, sweeter flavor than most tomatoes and a texture perfect for melting into a pasta sauce. Through the magic of canning, which produces tomatoes that are usually better than fresh, you can enjoy them anywhere and anytime, with the best ones often being the simplest whole-peeled options. That being said, there is one addition you can find in some canned tomatoes that manages to make the best even better, and it's something you were probably already adding to your tomato recipes to begin with.

If you want canned San Marzano tomatoes with the best flavor they can bring, find yourself a can with basil packed in. Too many additions to canned tomatoes can distract from or degrade the taste of the tomatoes themselves, but basil is a natural pairing that only enhances it. Some tomato brands  include basil with their San Marzanos by default, but you should check the ingredients label to make sure, as it's not always clear. Once you find a brand you like, you'll be happy you checked, because every pizza and pot of sauce you make will be bursting with a more deep, complex flavor than any made with just plain tomatoes.

Basil is a perfect complement to canned tomatoes

It's probably not a surprise that basil is a great addition to canned tomatoes. While some people may prefer the flavor of basic San Marzanos in their natural juices as a more neutral starting point, there isn't really an Italian dish where you would use tomatoes that doesn't benefit from some basil as well. Basil's mix of sweetness and herbal spice rounds out acidic tomatoes, and its strong flavor means it can stand up to the power of tomatoes, and the extended cooking times of sauces. Tomatoes brightness is also complemented by basil, which has a hint of mint that fits in perfectly. Spending time marinating in a sealed can only helps bring these two ingredients together, fully infusing the tomatoes with basil's earthy zing.

Canned San Marzano tomatoes with basil are going to shine no matter how you use them. Chopped up, the basil will come through and taste great on sandwiches or in a Caprese salad. Cook them, and the basil takes more of a background role but still brings a depth of flavor to the dish. If you frequently cook Italian dinners, it will also save you the trouble of buying fresh basil that was very likely already in the recipe anyway. So the next time you pick up a can of San Marzanos, grab some with some basil to enjoy them in their ideal form.