I belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and get a lot of fresh vegetables in the summer, including tomatoes. Tomatoes are one of summer’s great pleasures, and of course a lot of them ripen all at the same time.
It’s hard to get too much of a good fresh caprese salad, but I do like to make sauces with the tomatoes as well. I’ve been tinkering with fresh sauces for awhile, and they have all tasted pretty darned good (it’s hard to go wrong with fresh tomatoes in a sauce) but I came across an article a week or so that talked about “poaching” fresh herbs in the sauce as it simmered.
I tried this last night and this is now going to be my go-to method for pasta sauce from fresh tomatoes. The slow cooking, along with poaching the herbs in the sauce as it cooks, imbues it with so much flavor, while allowing the freshness of the tomatoes and herbs to shine.
Donna, this isn’t really a recipe as such, but I’ll give you approximates of what I did last night. I’m guessing you might want to double this for a meal for you and Tim.
First, gather up about 2 1bs of tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes, two sprigs basil, 2 springs oregano (it’s okay Donna, you can leave the oregano out) olive oil, salt, and sugar.
Start up a big pot of water to boil. Prepare a big bowl of water with ice in it. Core the tomatoes and cut an X in the other end.
Place the tomatoes in the boiling water and bring back to boil. Keep an eye on the tomatoes and when you see the skin start to peel back remove and place in the ice water bath.
Meanwhile, peel and mince the garlic. I like garlic, so I used two really big cloves, probably what would be more like 4 cloves from a regular bulb of garlic.
Once the tomatoes have cooled enough to handle, peel the tomatoes. Cut them in big chunks.
Pour the water out of the pot you used with the tomatoes (why dirty another pot). Place back on the burner over medium heat and add olive oil. I have no idea how much. I just pour in some. A tablespoon? Once it shimmers, toss in the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the tomatoes back into the pot. This is where it takes some time. Don’t heat above medium, and be sure to give the occasional stir. The tomatoes will soften and break down.
Once they have broken down into a sauce-like consistency you can put them through a food mill, or mash with a potato masher, or use an immersion blender to get the consistency that you want.
Now it is time to add a little salt, and about a tsp of sugar, and a pinch or two of red pepper flakes. Then add the sprigs of basil and oregano (not you Donna) stems and all. Lower the heat and simmer at least 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if you like, and if you want a thicker sauce, simmer some more.
Remove the herbs, and serve with the pasta of your choice.