TOMATOES

Where did the Summer go all of a sudden?  A few recent sunny days after Hurricane Irene had me believing that Fall is not upon us, but it is!  This is not bad news:  First, there are many seasonal crops still to look forward to (winter squashes (butternut, acorn and spaghetti), brussels sprouts, leeks, kale, collards, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, chard and the slowly growing second planting of snap peas); and second, tomatoes are still here!  They may not look as pretty as they did a few weeks ago, but all is not lost.  Today before it started pouring AGAIN, I surveyed some local rows.  There are still some Cherokee Purples for tomato sandwiches and Sun Golds in various degrees of readiness for fresh sauce. 

I must confess that it wasn’t until recently that I grew to love cherry tomatoes. I had a problem with the pits. But over the past couple of years, I’ve fallen in love with the experience of seeing them, picking them and eating them right there in the garden – especially when I’m thirsty in the middle of the day digging up rows of potatoes and onions – no time to go get a drink. It’s too distracting and, if you’ve already eaten the cucumbers that are ready for the day, tomatoes have enough water to satisfy and enough sugar to give a healthy jolt, coffee breaks notwithstanding.

So I was harvesting more of these gems the other day after remembering my first camping trip a couple of summers ago. We brought tons of stuff from the garden and cooked it on a little camping stove I bought for five bucks at a tag sale. I was (and continue to be) blown away both by how tasty this sauce is -- and that it can be made so simply.  I pulled the camping stove out again last week and had it on the kitchen counter expecting the power to go out, which it didn't, but was happy to have this handy little propane job since everything in my house is electric!!.   I also made a batch of sauce (on the regular stove) and hope to have enough for at least a couple more before first frost.

Like most great things, this “recipe” is just by eye, smell and taste:

Halve as many cherry tomatoes as you can get your hands on (too much is not enough)
In a skillet, warm some olive oil (organic, cold-pressed is best)  and add the tomatoes.
As the mixture starts to cook down, add salt and pepper and LOTS of fresh basil.

Slowly simmer for as long as possible so that all of the flavors start to unfold.

On the other burner, as the sauce is nearing completion, boil some salted water and cook pasta of your choice (in a couple of weeks when Spaghetti Squash is ready (and you have access to an oven) you can substitute it for pasta). When the pasta’s finished, drain the water, return the batch to the pot and stir in some butter to prevent sticking and to add another savory layer of flavor. Conserving pots and pans is always good to do to save water and clean up time even if you’re not camping. Pour the aromatic sauce that has been torturing you for the past hour over the pasta and grate some fresh organic Pecorino Romano over the pot. Some say Parmesean is better, but I beg to differ…


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