Farmer's Market Fresh Tomato Sauce
Red is one of my favorite colors. If you came over to my apartment for dinner, you'd see that I have a collection of red-painted flea market chairs around the farm table. On the chocolate brown wall above my bed, I have an abstract painting of a swirling, red circus big top. I have a closet full of red Ikea flower pots, red placemats and candles.
My fascination with dragging bring red things home extended to the Grand Army Plaza farmer's market. I bought tomatoes from three different stands.
First a confession: I don't love tomatoes. I don't know if I should blame that on the under-ripe seedy, slimy and sour tomatoes we find at the grocery store for most of the year or if I blame it on tomato overload at a young age. In a patch of the backyard where the previous owners og our house had an above ground swimming pool, my parents grew Big Boy and Early Girl tomatoes.
For the past two or three summers, I've been more intersted in tomatoes. While I still skipped standard tomatoes, I found myself falling for quirky heirloom tomatoes. I'd tentatively cut into their gnarled bumps and humps, shake on some salt and pepper and slurp them up. Still, I wasn't really a tomato guy. Last Sunday, though, I couldn't help myself. There was so much red.
When I got home from the market and posted this, I realized how many tomatoes I'd bought. Too many to slice and eat in sandwiches, too many for a salad.
Sunday night, I decided I'd make a fresh tomato sauce. After looking at a few recipes, I got to work in the kitchen. It was hot and we were hungry so I wasn't up for a lot of messing around. The results of my quick work were my favorite thing I'd made in a while. Here's what I did:
I put a red Le Creuset
I put a second pot of water over to boil for my angel hair pasta. I cut the cores out of three tomatoes (who really needs a corer?) , which together weighed just over a pound, with a paring knife and then chopped them up. Unlike grocery store tomatoes, these the meat of the tomato, the seeds, the juice all hung together.
When the oil was warm, I added my tomatoes and I let them cook on medium-low for about 10 minutes, adding salt and fresh cracked pepper. When the tomatoes were almost done cooking, I added about 3 springs of fresh cinnamon basil leaves, which I had carefully washed, pulled from the stems, and given a rough chop.
I decided to skip peeling the tomatoes. The biggest pieces of skin clung to the side of the pot and I picked those out as the sauce cooked down. I let the sauce cook for a few more minutes while the angel hair finished cooking. Then I put the pasta on a platter, put the sauce on top and we were ready for dinner.
The cinnamon basil went especially well with the tomatoes, as the guy who sold it to me at the farmer's market promised. I find regular basil to be overpowering: soapy, medicinal or too green tasting. The cinnamon basil is more complex, but still lighter. Unlike the lemon basil I also tested, the cinnamon basil flavor didn't ease up when cooked.
I called R* over to the kitchen island and we ate it all sitting right there. I served this angel hair with fresh tomato sauce with a side of steamed yellow squash.
"You can taste the freshness," R* said. And that's the best summary for this simple, rich red summer supper.
UPDATE: If you're looking for another summertime fresh tomato recipe, try this.