Monday, October 04, 2010

Tomato Season's End

The temperature dropped to 46F last night so I guess that means we are for real and truly into fall. If you are like me and have a garden you are seeing the final blush of peppers and a few straggling tomatoes. The tomatoes are small but still taste a world better than grocery store tomatoes and I am going to be sorry to see them go.

I don't know if I have mentioned it before here(and I am too lazy to go and look) but I often make a simple pasta sauce out of nothing but chopped fresh tomatoes cooked for a while in olive oil or butter. Sometimes a little shallot or onion and a dash of garlic but all the fresh tomatoes really need is a little salt and pepper. If you haven't tried this simple sauce for pasta you should give it a whirl. You can have a very nice supper on the table in the time it takes you to boil the pasta. I would suggest finishing the sauce with a little fresh basil to highlight the tomatoes. Try in both ways...cooked in olive oil and cooked in butter. Two different flavors but both nice. You can also through in a couple of anchovy filets for a change and they give the sauce a very interesting dimension and you won't taste the anchovies in the finished sauce as they just disappear.

Once the garden tomatoes are gone then you are going to have to rely on any you may have canned yourself or the canned tomatoes from the grocery. I try and avoid the domestic canned tomatoes in favor of the ones from Italy which are much better. Look for brands that say they are San Marzano tomatoes but be careful, there is also a brand called San Marzano which isn't nice at all. With these canned Italian tomatoes you can get a respectable sauce though it will lack that brilliance that you will get from your own or locally grown.
I should also mention that if you have the time and inclination, homemade pasta is hands above dried pasta from the box and it isn't hard. Be forewarned however, that once you start making your own pasta you will be spoiled and won't be happy with the boxed stuff. It's the same as having real Parmesan cheese or any proper hard cheese from Italy. One taste of Grana Padano or Parmigiana-Reggiano and you will wonder why you ever settled for the stuff in the green cardboard can or even fresh domestic Parmesan cheese.
Of course, the above simple tomato sauce is even better with a little good cheese on top.

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