Saturday, August 31, 2013

It's tomato season again!

While tomato season typically marks the end - or nearly the end - of summer, I can't help but feel such excitement.  All those beautiful red fruit/vegetables.  We can't forget the yellow and orange tomatoes as well.  While I'd be hard pressed to, say, pick one to eat to the exclusion of all others, I think the orange cherry tomatoes are the sweetest, hence my favorite. 

There's nothing better than a sandwich with fresh tomatoes.  This summer I've begun roasting a 'bunch-o-beets' and slicing one - or a half - rubbing the bread with a chunk of tomato and topping with a sliced beet and crumbled feta.  Mmmm, the earthy fullness of the beet coupled with the juice of the tomato and the addition of the feta make it just a delicious alternative to the fake turkey sandwiches I've been eating.

And while they taste wonderfully sweet during the season, nothing beats a fresh tomato sauce over pasta on a cold, January evening.

On the food blogs I've become obsessed with of late, I've seen recipes and formulas for a simple, (or raw or uncooked or any variation on that theme) tomato sauce.  I spent much of tomato season last year experimenting.  By the time the farmer's markets - and our CSA - had stopped featuring them, I had a freezer full of one or two jars each of any number of sauces.  Tinkering with the recipes with each batch of sauce I produced, I finally 'perfected' what I've called Super Simple Fresh Tomato Sauce.  It truly is, as the name suggests, so simple, it's almost not cooking.

For today's exercise, I took  heirloom tomatoes, about two pounds, two plump cloves of garlic, a bit of olive oil and salt.  That's it.  The tomatoes are dropped into boiling water until the skins pop then dunked in an ice bath.  While they're cooling, I add the garlic cloves, minced, to the sauté pan with a generous glug of olive oil.  When the garlic is just beginning to become fragrant, I squeeze some, but not all, of the seeds into the sink, and crush the remaining flesh in my hands.  The flesh is added to the sauté pan, along with a good pinch of salt, for a minute or two until the flesh begins to break down.  At that time, I remove the flesh from the pan to a bowl, while the remaining juice is reduced.  When it begins to coat the bottom of the pan, it's time to return the flesh to the now-reduced juices.  Turn the heat off and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Presto!  Super Simple Fresh Tomato Sauce! 

Trust me. In January you'll pull a jar of this from the freezer in the morning, let it thaw during the day, toss it with hot pasta, add a drop of olive oil and be transported back to the waning days of summer.

And here's the finished product:

The first two jars of Super Simple Tomato Sauce for 2013