Each variety of canned tomatoes will give your sauce a different consistency and taste.
Fresh tomatoes are always delicious and should be used when in season. However, there are excellent canned tomatoes that allow the home cook to create wonderful tomato dishes all year round.
The choices of canned tomatoes include: peeled tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, peeled tomatoes with puree and conserva (tomato paste). Each will give your sauce a different consistency and taste. For best results, look for San Marzano Pomodori Pelati (peeled tomatoes from San Marzano) on the label when buying imported canned peeled tomatoes.
Peeled plum tomatoes in their own juice: For basic light tomato and marinara sauces. Before using them to make marinara, I crush them lightly with my hands. Before using them to make tomato sauce, I pass them through a food mill. If you do not own a food mill, crush them as fine as possible with a wire whisk. Don’t puree them in a food processor or blender. I also use peeled plum tomatoes in their own juice when making quick dishes with fish, chicken, and vegetables.
Tomato puree and paste: For cooking sauces with meat, such as bolognese, or game sauces. In this case, the puree or paste is simmered for a long time, giving a velvety density and complexity to the sauce.
Crushed tomatoes and peeled tomatoes in puree:For making sauces for lasagna, baked pasta dishes or vegetables and meats parmigiana. For these dishes, the sauce should be on the tight side, not thin and runny.