Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ripe Summer Tomatoes

Walking through the Greenmarket this time of year, you can't help but realize that tomato season has arrived.  The big gleaming beefsteaks are everywhere, and the heirlooms are just now making their noble debut.  Despite the fact that the vendors are actually selling these things, as I stroll through the stalls I somehow feel as though I'm the lucky recipient of a bumper crop, and thus grab at the bounty indiscriminately, thinking of the money exchanged only after I find myself lugging pounds and pounds of tomatoes home.

So once home I must think like an Italian mama during the summer harvest season.  What to do with the red orbs taking over the kitchen counters?  Tomato sauce, quite obviously.  But it's been so obscenely hot in New York lately that I can barely bring myself to turn on the stove, so long, slow cooking has been out of the question.  I was in a bit of a quandary.  How long would these things last before exploding all over my countertops?  Could I stand being in the equivalent of a sweat lodge while they simmered down into sauce on the stove?

Turns out, thanks to John Tuturro of all people, I didn't have to make the hard choice.  Upon reading his recipe for pasta with raw tomato sauce in the Wall Street Journal last weekend, I knew I had found the recipe that would save me and my overrun kitchen.

The sauce is once of those stunningly simple but amazingly delicious things that Mediterranean cultures do so well...skinned and seeded tomato chopped finely (I know blanching and peeling tomatoes can be fiddly, but I always do it as I cannot stand tomato skin in sauces), mixed with some grated garlic, basil leaves, salt (Maldon is perfect here) and olive oil and left to macerate for as long as you have (I usually give it at least a half hour).

And then throw in some hot pasta, stir, et voila.

Summer in a bowl.

Luckily the heat has broken for a wee moment so the remainder of my stash is, as I speak, bubbling away cheerfully on the stove with a chopped onion and a few basil stalks, as the tomato maven Paul Bertolli suggests in his cookbook, which has become a favorite of mine.  Given that his is the only tome I've seen thus far that devotes and entire chapter to tomatoes, I'm prepared to follow his lead in the area.  I'm even thinking a few jars of conserva are needs diversity after all.


Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

This sounds delicious, Laura, and perfect for a hot summer night! I make a similar version, but mince one clove of garlic and leave it in the tomatoes, for a slightly more garlicky kick. I don't bother with blanching and skinning the tomatoes, so mine is less saucy and more chunky. I also don't salt it until just before adding the pasta--salt tends to pull too much liquid from the tomatoes and makes it all soupier than I like. You can also use cherry or grape tomatoes and just halve them.

Sneaky Magpie said...

The raw tomato sauce sounds delish, I must try it.

Ola said...

Yes, for me the tomatoe season is always a sign of an ending summer:) we should take the advantage as much as possible, later they never taste the same

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