Last month I figured out there are really only a few things that truly makes me happy. I know it has been said before, but some words are really worth repeating. Cherish what you have. Be thankful of the little moments. There’s so much we want to hold on to and never want to part with. Don’t brace yourself for any long dramatic speech. This is as heavy as I’m going to get with this post, even though I do realize it’s probably too late for that warning.
So here I am in August. Having spent most of July staying in, last week I decided I better reap the bountiful amount of gorgeous summer produce before it’s too late. Blueberries, corns, watermelons, peaches, and plums are five out of the hundreds of options to choose from. When it comes to summer, trying to decide what to eat can be a very welcoming headache.
Before I could even grab a shopping basket at my local market, there it was. Displayed three feet in front of me was a pyramid of multicolored local heirloom tomatoes. To make this find even sweeter, on top was a huge sign that said sale. JACKPOT!
Gazpacho immediately came in mind. Yet, I had more failures in making it than the piles of tomatoes that were in front of me. Over dramatic? Perhaps, but I suck at making gazpacho. I didn’t want to butcher these fine specimens on another batch of crappy cold mess that tasted more like puree salsa. Cooking it was not an option. When they are this perfect and ripe, it’s meant to be eaten as is. Insalata Caprese is a perfect way to enjoy it. Slice it, tuck it in between pieces of buffalo mozzarella and big basil leaves, and drizzle with fruity balsamic vinegar. Per-fect! Or, why not just eat it as a fruit, since that’s what it really is. Take a bite, sprinkle it with salt, bite again, and you may never want to eat raw tomatoes any another way again.
What I made instead was a simple and colorful Uncooked Heirloom Tomato Sauce. The recipe is from one of my favorite podcasts, The Splendid Table. By the time you finish cooking the pasta and setting the table (or pouring the wine, depending on what mood you are in), this sauce is done. I added minced capers into mines, but besides that I don’t encourage adding additional vegetables. You are not making salsa. This sauce is not about mingling different flavors together. The tomatoes are the star of the dish. Let it impress you, and your mouth will be very happy with this solo act.
Uncooked Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Whole Wheat Spaghetti
Adapted from The Italian Country Table: Home Cooking from Italy’s Farmhouse Kitchens by Lynne Rossetto Kasper
- 1½ lb mixed variety of heirloom tomatoes
- 1 bunch of basil leaves (about 10 leaves)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tblsp minced capers
- 2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ lb whole wheat spaghetti
Start by dicing the tomatoes evenly into quarter square inches. Set it aside.
Peel and split the garlic clove in half. In a large serving bowl, rub the garlic all around the bowl. Save the garlic for another dish or toss out.
Add the diced tomatoes, minced capers, and olive oil into the bowl. Tear up the large pieces of basil and add that into the bowl as well.
Stir and make sure everything is mixed together. Season it with salt and pepper.
Set aside in room temperature and begin cooking pasta. If you are using the sauce until later in the day, leave it out in room temperature too.
Cook the pasta until it’s almost al dente and set it aside.
In a colander, drain the sauce, and reserve the watery liquid that drips down.
In the same pot you cooked the pasta in, pour the reserved liquid, add in the pasta, and turn on the flame to a medium high.
Stir and cook until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the pasta.
Place the pasta into the bowl with the sauce and toss well until everything is combined. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately.
This isn’t a “make today and serve tomorrow” kind of sauce. If does taste better if you let it sit for a few hours in room temperature, but never refrigerate it. Chilling the sauce kills the natural sweet and acidic flavors of the tomatoes.
You can play around with the sauce by adding different herbs and tossing it with grated Pecorino Romano. Just remember the tomatoes are the main ingredients and flavor of this dish. If you want to add a little spicy kick, sprinkle a dash of Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce when serving.