This has been a ridiculously cool summer here in Northern California. While the rest of the country swelters and bakes, it’s been unseasonably cold, with foggy nights, and many foggy days as well. I’m not complaining, because I love cool foggy weather, and besides, I suspect those of you melting back east would probably put a hit out for me if I did.
So it was quite a shock to the system yesterday when the sun came out full force and decided that it really is actually August. It was either 98 or 104 yesterday, depending on whom you trust. It’s 101 outside right now, and it’s not quite 3:00 in the afternoon, which means that it will probably get up to about 105 by 5:00. (Supposed to cool off to the 70s by Friday, they’re saying.) (UPDATE: It got to 105 or 111, again depending on who you believe…Yahoo said 105, the newspaper this morning says it was 111??? Anyway, it killed our a/c, so I don’t know how we’re going to get through today…) On days like today, even though we have the a/c going and it’s a comfortable 78 downstairs (not sure how warm it is up here, though it’s certainly hotter than down there), I like to make quick, easy meals that won’t heat up the kitchen and make the a/c work overtime. One dish that’s perfect for hot evenings is this fresh tomato sauce over pasta. Yes, I’ll have to heat up the stove long enough to cook the pasta, but that doesn’t take long, so it’s OK.
This recipe comes from my trustworthy New Basics Cookbook, of which I clearly need a new copy. The binding on mine has broken in several places, and I discovered to my dismay that the first 160 pages are missing. That’s not OK people. NOT. Thank goodness for the old Internets, and even Google Books, where you can see the exact page of the recipe you’re looking for. Maybe I don’t need another copy after all?
The key to the recipe, since it is a raw sauce, is to use the best ingredients you can find. You could use tomatoes from the grocery store, but if you’re going to do that, just buy a bottle of Ragu or something. Seriously. This is for the really good tomatoes from your garden or Farmers’ Market. The Parmigiano-Reggiano that you grate yourself, not the green can. Good olive oil. Kosher salt. I think you’re getting the idea. The great thing about this sauce is that it just sits all day on the counter (covered in case a fly has come in from the heat), and you toss it with pasta when you’re ready, and serve. So you can do the blanching of tomatoes and the chopping in the cool of the morning, rather than when you’re cranky because of the heat. I really like the ease and simplicity of this dish. Make a salad with it if you wish, or just have some wine and figure that the tomatoes in the dish are veggies enough. Whichever way you roll.
Fresh Summer Tomato Sauce
Adapted from The New Basics Cookbook*
2 large ripe tomatoes **
4 T olive oil
1/4 C chopped basil leaves
1/8 C chopped parsley ***
1/4 C chopped scallions (green onions)
1 T chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and blanch the tomatoes in the water for 30 seconds, then
plunge into cold water to stop the cooking. Drain tomatoes and peel them.
Cut tomatoes in half, core and seed them, draining off as much of the juice as possible. Dice the remaining pulp.
Combine the diced tomatoes with 1 T of olive oil, in a mixing bowl. Add all the remaining
ingredients, except the Parmesan and olive oil****, and toss to blend. If not using the same day, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before tossing with hot pasta.
To serve, add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and toss with hot pasta. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
Makes 2 cups
* click the link to see the actual page of the cookbook. Thanks, Google Books!
** Two tomatoes? Unless they’re HUGE, that’s not enough for me. I used 4 medium tomatoes, and some small ones that were getting pretty ripe. I buy in largish quantities at the Farmers’ Market, so I still have plenty left for salad or whatever.
***I didn’t look at the recipe when I went to the store this morning, and it’s too hot to go out now, so I didn’t realize that we don’t have any fresh oregano or parsley in the house. Should have planted that herb garden, I guess. I used a tiny pinch of dried oregano, and ignored the parsley. It was delicious just the same.
**** The recipe doesn’t say ‘and olive oil’, so I added the rest of the olive oil at this step, rather than at the end. It’s OK, but I thought I would clarify for you in case it makes some difference for some reason.