A few weeks ago I was visiting a friend in Brooklyn. She was living in an old Italian neighborhood – the kind where the old ladies sit in their lawn chairs on one side of the street and yell things back and forth with their men who “take meetings” on the other side.
One day, when my friend and I were walking back from a long day traipsing through the hot and muggy city, Viki, a 60+ white haired lady with a classic Brooklyn accent, yelled after us, “You gals want a tomato?"
Had I heard this dame correctly, was she offering us a tomato?
Yes, yes she was.
She pushed a tomato that looked a lot like herself: plump, bright and red. It was tangy, juicy, and deliciously cool and it came directly from her very own garden. It was summer incarnate.
Viki doesn’t eat the tomatoes herself. But her husband Mario told me that she does make a mean sauce.
When Elissa suggested making pasta with tomato sauce and lamb meatballs for dinner, it sounded perfect. I normally think of this as a cold weather meal, but it is certainly NOT cold here. In fact, it is downright hot. With some olive bread, a caesar-ish salad and a sauce made from fresh and tangy tomatoes, the delicious comfort of this dinner made everything seem a little better. Plus, I knew there would be some jug wine from Preston, and good teamwork-cooking involved. The thought alone brought me to my happy place.
I think it might have even made Viki smile.
This is a very simple tangy tomato sauce. If tomatoes aren’t in season, you can use canned tomatoes. I like to cook my pasta until just before it is al dente in salted water and then finish the last little bit of cooking right in the sauce so that the flavor really permeates.
Light and Tangy Tomato Sauce
3lbs fresh tomatoes (we used Dirty Girl Farms dry farmed tomatoes)
1 medium white onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 can tomato paste
1 fresh red chili (jalapeño) cut in half with the seeds removed
1/2 cup Olive Oil
Salt to taste
½ tbsp Fresh Oregano – chopped (can use dried)
2 tbsp Fresh Basil – chopped
Peel the tomatoes by scoring an X in the bottom of each tomato. Bring a pot of water to a boil (you can save this water to boil pasta if you want) and drop each tomato into the water for about 30 seconds. Transfer the tomatoes with a slotted spoon or tongs into ice water. The peel should slide right off the fruit.
Sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat in a sauce pot for 5-7 minutes or until translucent. Squeeze the peeled tomatoes into the onion and garlic mixture. Bring to a simmer. Stir in the tomato paste, and drop in the chili halves. Add chopped oregano. Salt to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes to 3 hours.
If the sauce is a little thick, you can thin it out by adding ½ -2 cups of the pasta cooking water.