Monday, September 24, 2007

Play With Your Food- Meet Mr. Tomato Head

OK. So I got a little silly when making tomato sauce. What's food for if not to play with once in a while?

If you follow along with me here at Pie a la Mona, you know that I'm a big fan of farmers markets and seasonal cooking. Last week, part of my market harvest was tomato seconds which I bought to make fresh tomato sauce using Marcella Hazan's basic recipe. It's more like a method than an recipe with exact measurements.

First, I cored the tomatoes and sliced them in half. Using a heavy pan, I cooked them covered, over medium heat for twenty minutes, stirring occasionally. When the tomatoes were softened, I ran them through a food mill and returned the strained tomatoes to the pan.

Next, I added a peeled onion, cut in half, and about 5 tablespoons of butter (see Mr. Tomato Head above). This was cooked at a low simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Discard the onion before refrigerating or freezing.

I salted the tomato sauce throughout the reduction process, being careful not to load all the salt at the beginning because the sauce concentrates as it simmers away.

Nine tomatoes yielded almost 2 quarts of simple, delicious sauce.

Note: You can use canned tomatoes for this recipe, but avoid using tomatoes packed in puree. Puree tomatoes are cooked and this detracts from the fresh brightness of this tomato sauce.
Serving ideas: This sauce is great for gnocchi and pastas such as spaghetti or linguine. How about serving it with my meatballs? (good idea!) Serve with fresh shredded basil and grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.

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