If you still have tomatoes left over from this summer’s amazing tomato season, you might want to give fresh tomato sauce a try.
I know, I know. It seems hard. And it’s so much easier to pour sauce from a jar.
But it’s not, actually. Well, OK, it is. But not that much harder, it turns out! A few weeks ago, I read David Tanis’ NYT article, The Time Is Right To Make Tomato Sauce and my eyes flew to the 6 gorgeous tomatoes my friend Chris had given me (which truth be told, had been sitting on my counter for longer than I’d like to admit.)
Could this solve my, ‘I don’t know what to do with that tomato bounty’ dilemma? I decided to try it – spurred to action by these phrases Mr. Tanis used in describing his recipe:
- “just make a small-batch” and “in a matter of minutes”
- “quick-cooking sauce with relatively fast preparation. There’s no need to blanch and peel tomatoes or even use a food mill”
- “All you need is a hand-held grater”
Quick and easy — check that as an ‘always’ requirement for me. And while I normally like to use equipment, I do not own a food mill and I could not quite imagine how one attacks a tomato with a hand-held grater!
Plus, tomatoes are heart healthy. In fact, a study published in 2007 by the The National Center for Biotechnology Information is actually titled, “Tomato juice decreases LDL cholesterol levels and increases LDL resistance to oxidation.” As I despise tomato juice and don’t get enough tomatoes in my diet, I thought I should pop a Prilosec and try this dinner.
And I’m glad I did. While the sauce was a little thin flavor-wise (which would be great for kids / picky eaters) it was very fresh and light – a terrific change of pace from jarred sauce. Plus, I love learning a new cooking technique – and well, OK, using a grater isn’t actually a cooking ‘technique; but still, I’d never done it and didn’t quite believe it could work.
I mean, what does it mean, actually, to grate a tomato? Bizarre, right? Turns out it was easy and actually does work. Here’s how Mr. Tanis describes it in his Quick Fresh Tomato Sauce recipe – and it’s totally accurate: “Cut the tomatoes in halves or quarters. Squeeze out the seeds, or don’t (I never mind a few seeds in the sauce). Place the cut side against the large holes of the grater and gently rub until only the tomato skin remains in your hand.” It actually worked and I was surprised to find it was kind of fun.
Here’s what it looked like while I was grating – and the resulting flat tomato skin, which made me giggle as it reminded me of Flat Stanley.
There’s a second recipe – for how to make the pasta dish using this quick fresh tomato sauce. Pasta With Fresh Tomato Sauce And Ricotta was an equally easy recipe and quite tasty. It also held up well for lunch the next day – a winner in my book. Plus, the ricotta adds protein so this is a good meat-less dinner option, with the heart-healthy benefits of lycopene.
If you have fresh from the garden, sun-ripened tomatoes on hand, give this a whirl. The recipe calls for 5 pounds of tomatoes which is A LOT – so I made a half batch and that worked fine.
BTW – in case you’re like me and don’t know how many tomatoes are in a pound, I looked it up. It’s about 3 ‘medium’ tomatoes to a pound. I had 6 tomatoes so halved the recipe – which isn’t exactly the right proportions, but exact measurements are not vital in this kind of recipe – close is good enough (which is why I much prefer cooking to baking!)
Click on the recipe links to see Mr. Tanis’ original article (with beautiful photos) or my recipe page has both of these recipes downloadable as a PDF: Pasta With Fresh Tomato Sauce and Ricotta…including Fresh Tomato Sauce.