Cherry Tomatoes, Heirloom Tomatoes, Pepper, Cucumber, Cabbage, Carrots, Potatoes, Sweet Onion & Zucchini
This week we have lots of tomatoes; so you can make your own pasta sauce or simply enjoy tomatoes as tomatoes. Most of the varieties we grow are heirloom varieties which tend to have richer flavour and a less uniform appearance than store bought red tomatoes. They also come in a greater range of colors, textures and shapes. You might get red, yellow, orange, pink, purple or black-red tomatoes in your bag. Seeds of these varieties have been passed down through generations of gardeners and are selected because of their flavour not their transportability.
Determining ripeness: I am frequently asked how to tell if a tomato is ready to be picked or not. I pick a tomato based on several factors and it is more of an art than a science. A ripe tomato should give slightly when you squeeze it lightly but should not feel mushy or hard. The color should be deep and rich. That said you do not want to leave a slightly under ripe tomato unpicked only to have it crack or break the vine. If it feels ripe eat it, if not let the tomato to sit on the counter for a day or two to finish ripening.
Fresh Tomato Sauce
Sauté a finely chopped yellow onion over medium heat in a large pot or saucepan with a lid. Add several cloves of finely chopped garlic and 1 tsp of salt.
Cook on medium low heat until fragrant.
Add 1 – 2 cups of coarsely chopped tomatoes to the onion mixture and turn up the heat stirring frequently for 5 – 10 minutes. The idea is to melt the tomatoes. Slowly add more chopped tomatoes as the mixture breaks down; you can use as many or as few tomatoes as you wish.
Once all the tomatoes are in the pot, lower the heat, add some more chopped garlic and let it simmer all afternoon if you can, until it is thick and saucy.
Season to taste before serving.
Freeze excess sauce in Ziploc bags for later use.
* My mother is adamant that tomatoes skins must be removed before we make sauce or salsa, and although I am lazy about such rules I tend to agree.
My lazy skin removal technique is to leave the tomato chunks large, and just pick out the skins as they separate from the flesh while the sauce cooks, or to use a hand blender and biz everything up after the tomatoes have cooked for a while so the skins become invisible. The proper method is to drop your tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds or until the skins split and loosen. Drain the tomatoes and immerse in cold water. The tomato skins should slip off easily with gentle peeling by hand.
Spaghetti alla Trapanese
1 lb dried spaghetti
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
5 ½ oz almonds
1 clove of garlic
4 large handfuls of fresh basil, leaves picked
5 ½ oz freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ lb tomatoes, halved
Cook your spaghetti in salted boiling water according to the package instructions. Warm the almonds a little in a dry pan, then smash them up in a pestle and mortar or whiz them in a food processor until you have a coarse powder. Put them into a bowl. Bash the garlic and basil separately in the mortar and mix with the almonds, adding the pecorino or Parmesan cheese, a good glug olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and really scrunch them up with your hands into the almond mixture until they have completely broken up. Loosen with a little extra olive oil and toss with your hot drained pasta. Check the seasoning, divide onto four plates, and spoon any sauce that remains in the pan over the top.
This trapanese pesto like sauce is truly amazing; a very light and refreshing pasta dish. And the whole thing can be done in the time it takes to boil and cook your pasta. To make things simple use your food processor instead of a mortar and pestle.
From Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver