Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce

One of the best uses for fresh tomatoes is pasta sauce. This is particularly true when you have a jungle-like "garden" of tomato plants threatening to take over your yard. Pick the tomatoes, wash them, toss them in salads, sandwiches, soups and anything else you can think of. The problem is that these plants produce a lot of tomatoes. Recipes that use multiple tomatoes are suddenly highly appealing to me.
Pasta is a great, easy dinner. Pasta sauce from fresh tomatoes is only marginally more involved that using jarred sauce. Including prep time, it takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. While your sauce cooks, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and cook your pasta. The pasta should be done around the same time as your sauce. Everything is homemade and perfect for a weeknight dinner.
This sauce is very simple and tastes very fresh. Use a shaped pasta to catch pieces of the sauce, not a long noodle.

Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce
1 medium onion
2 large cloves of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
8 medium-large tomatoes
2 tbsp fresh basil, plus more for garnish
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Dice onion and mince garlic. Sautee onion and garlic until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, coarsely chop tomatoes into small pieces. Add them to the pan. Add basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, until it reduces and the tomatoes are very tender; this should take 15-20 minutes.

Serves 3-4, depending on how saucy you like your pasta.

Meat Variation, shown above:
As sauce simmers, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat in a medium sauce pan. Break 1/2 pound of ground beef into small chunks and brown in the oil. Drain some of the grease from the meat, then add beef into the tomato sauce and continue to simmer until the sauce is thickened.