Fresh Heirloom Tomato Sauce

  This is more of a concept than a precise recipe and maybe that’s why it appeals to me so much.

It is everything that a slowly simmered classic Italian tomato sauce isn’t. It is easy, extremely fast to prepare and incredibly satisfying to eat. Whenever the tomato harvest (more of an avalanche, actually) is in full swing I make this sauce and freeze it in gallon sized ziploc bags. I use the dented tomatoes, the ones with blemishes and soft spots that cause the tomato to rot overnight and anything that can’t be sold at Fiddlehead. This year due to weather problems and the late season blight I have more damaged fruit than anything else. Many of the tomatoes are misshapen and to be honest, a bit on the ugly side. If it weren’t for this fresh tomato sauce recipe the majority of what I grew this year would have gone to waste.

This recipe is almost too easy to believe. It requires no culinary skill, few ingredients and little time. From start to finish all you’ll need is about fifteen minutes.

Get out your largest skillet, a cutting board and a serrated knife.

Cut out the blemishs, cores and rotten spots from the tomatoes and cut into chunks. I like to use a mixture of every variety of tomato including the low acid yellow ones. Heat the dry pan over a high heat and cover the bottom with a layer of extra virgin olive oil. Toss in the tomatoes and immediately work them in the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula. There is no need for garlic, minced onions, green pepper or anything else. Trust me on this.

With the tomatoes on the heat chop a ridiculous amount of fresh flat leaf parsley, fresh basil, fresh oregano and some thyme or winter savory if you have some handy. I’m talking a ton of fresh herbs- a few  full handfuls per batch.

Add some good salt (Maldon, fleur de sel or kosher salt ) add a liberal amount of fresh ground pepper and a dollop of tomato paste (I prefer sundried paste in a tube).

With the heat at full tilt stir periodically with the wooden spoon. Keep the whole thing at a fast simmer while the tomatoes break down and turn to liquid.

Resist the temptation to fuss with it like the stereotypical Italian grandmother. You’ll have a great, fresh tasting sauce that isn’t bitter or acidy in ten minutes or less. Depending on the tomatoes you use it will probably be a light orange color.

Every time I make this sauce I still can’t believe how easy and good it is.

Some variations to consider: red pepper flakes, capers and oil-cured olives.

Once you try this method I doubt you’ll ever make a tomato sauce the old way again.


Baked Figs:

Take fresh soft figs (either Mission or Rainbow) and slice in half vertically from the stem end. Place a dollop of soft goat cheese and toasted pine nuts on the cut side of the fig and wrap with a piece of proscuitto. Put on a baking sheet and warm in the oven for five or so minutes.

We had this the other night with Humboldt Fog as the cheese. Fantastic!