Monday, August 20, 2012

Made From Scratch: Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce

It's tomato time.
Some lucky people have vines in their gardens absolutely dripping with them.
But if you're not one of the lucky ones, you can still visit the farmers market and buy some.
The stands there are full of the fragrant, red, beauties.
Whether you pick your own, or buy a bucketful, you'll need to do something with them.
The easiest thing to do, of course, is to slice them, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and eat them with thick slices of fresh mozzarella and basil, like this.
You can also make tomato sauce.

If you've ever made tomato sauce from scratch, you know it is a time consuming, hot, messy, and somewhat tedious process.
It's not something you can start an hour before dinner.
It's also not something you want to do when it's 90 degrees in your kitchen.
All that peeling, seeding, and boiling--it's a lot of work.

That's why I want to tell you about my favorite tomato sauce: Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce.
No peeling, seeding or pots of boiling water required.
It's fast.
And best of all, it's completely delicious.
This sauce is simple to make:
4 ingredients.
5 if you want a bit of spice.
You'll start with a bunch of cherry tomatoes.
These are just the red ones, but I also like to use the yellow ones--they make a really pretty sauce.
The only prep you have to do to these tomatoes is to wash them and remove the stems.
Could it be any easier?
Using a generous amount of olive oil, you'll start by sauteing the garlic.
Don't let it burn, just get lightly brown.
If you like your sauce with a little kick like I do, you can add some red pepper flakes to the hot oil and garlic.
As soon as the garlic is ready, add the tomatoes.
You just dump them right into the pot whole--remember no prep needed.
Let them cook in the hot oil, stirring every couple of minutes with a wooden spoon.
Pretty soon they'll start to get soft and then split.
Once they begin to split, take your potato masher, or a big fork, and begin to crush the tomatoes.
You don't have to fully crush them.
Just smash them enough to release their juices.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and a spoonful of sugar to cut the acid.
Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.
Allow the sauce to simmer until it reaches the consistency that you like.
It can get quite thick if you allow it to cook a while.
The sauce will be full of skins and seeds, but it really doesn't matter.
It tastes so good that you don't notice.
The cherries are different than the giant beefsteak tomatoes--the seeds are smaller and the skins are softer.
My kids ate this sauce and loved it.
I really don't need to say anything other than that, right?

I've been making this sauce for years.
It is one of my all time favorites.
It's very fresh and light--perfect for a hot summer night.
After it's done cooking, I like to add fresh basil to the sauce.
That adds another layer of freshness and really makes this sauce pop.
It tastes really good over a pasta like orecchiette.
Those little pockets catch the sauce perfectly.
The sauce also freezes very well.
You can freeze it in mason jars, or flat, in freezer bags to save space.
I don't add the fresh basil if I am freezing.

If you think it's not worth the trouble to make up a big batch and freeze, let me convince you otherwise.
Come December or January, when it is cold and overcast and there isn't a good tomato to be found anywhere, you'll take out a bag of Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce, defrost it, warm it, and pour it over some hot pasta.
The beautiful color will brighten your day.
The fresh tomato flavor will explode in your mouth and you will be instantly transported back to the long days of sunshine.
This tomato sauce tastes like summer.
Make it!
Love from,

*The batch I made for this recipe was very small.
I just needed to use some ripe tomatoes I had on hand.
2 cups of tomatoes filled 1 quart mason jar.
It was just enough for us all--and none of us drowned our pasta is sauce.
Obviously you can double, triple or quadruple it and make a whole lot more.
It will be totally worth it.

Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce  
inspired by an old recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine
2 cups cherry tomatoes (red, or a mix of red and yellow)
Olive oil
Red Pepper flakes to taste
2 large cloves garlic (the original recipe calls for much more, but I like it a bit more mellow--you can adjust it to your own taste)
1 teaspoon sugar (you can add more if you like the sauce a bit sweeter)
Salt to taste
Fresh basil leaves

Cover the bottom of a large, heavy bottomed, pot with olive oil and heat
Roughly chop the garlic and add to the pot
Add red pepper flakes to taste ( a little goes a long way)
Stir the garlic and cook until it is lightly browned
Add the tomatoes
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to split
Smash the tomatoes with a potato masher or fork until juices are released
Add sugar and salt to taste
Simmer tomatoes until the sauce reaches desired consistency
Remove from heat and add basil


hennymats said...

I so have to try that! We have red and yellow ones growing on the deck. One of the tricks I tried recently and which worked wonders was do add a tablespoon or so of butter to the sauce instead of sugar, it cuts out the acid, too, but makes for a rounder, mellower sauce. Now, how do I manage to leave enough tomatoes for the sauce with everyone eating them right off the plants?!

Erica said...

I love tomatoes in every way, shape and form. So good.

I've never had much luck growing them myself, but always look forward to yummy summer tomatoes from the grocery store and farmer's market.

I never made tomato sauce completely from scratch before. I've always used canned tomatoes. Your recipe looks so fresh and delicious!

Rachel @ said...

Love your cherry tomato pasta sauce recipe I’m going to try that thanks