In four years of community gardening, I’ve learned a few things about my little 26sf plot. I’ve learned that all the tomatoes will begin to ripen at the exact moment I leave the country. I’ve learned that the second I show the slightest excitement about the bud of something wonderful, the next day it will be dry, withered and dead. I’ve learned that the tall robust plant I nurture and water will very likely turn out to be a tall robust weed. I’ve learned that things go missing, whether by pest, rodent or human hand. And I’ve learned that cherry tomatoes are the way to go. The larger tomato varieties, after weeks and weeks of careful watering, tethering and fertilizing, never seem to make it to September. But cherry tomatoes will bloom all summer long with a least a good handful weekly, often far more. I’m smart enough to stick with what I know.
My favorite and most productive by far, are Sun Gold’s, a deep orange and incredibly sweet small tomato. I’ve pretty much given up on anything else. Throughout the summer, as long as I keep my little plot well watered, my harvest is constant, varying from a small handful to a good-sized bagful. More often than not, if the haul is small, I’ll eat the whole lot on the car ride home. I simply cannot help myself. They are that good – everything you want in a summer tomato – but small and supremely pop-able.
But often, I’ll come home with a good amount, enough for something more substantial. I’ve made delicious tarts where the oven heat concentrates their inherent sweetness to the point of ridiculous. But lately, I’m all about quick and easy dinners and a simple sautéed pan sauce for pasta has become the running favorite this summer. And every summer, to be truthful. I just love this dish.
Really, it couldn’t be easier. Start the sauce when the pasta goes into the water and everything is done at the same time. Stir in some fresh basil, a bit of cheese and you’re good to go. Don’t start the sauce too early – you want some substance of the tomatoes and freshness to remain, not a complete mush. If you’re unsure, the pasta can cook and happily wait in the colander until you’re ready. My recipe below is for 1 serving but this can certainly be increased to whatever you need. Served alongside some fresh corn or a bit of cold watermelon and you have summer on a plate.
Just this morning I brought home another large bag of gorgeous Sun Gold tomatoes and this dish is definitely in my immediate future. Probably for lunch. And at least a dozen times more before the season is over. I simply can’t help myself.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: BIG EXHALE. This is seasonal cooking at it’s finest though I have to say, I’ve made this in the dead of winter with some decent grape tomatoes and it was delicious. Perfect when I needed just a glimmer of sunny hope. Sweet, tiny tomatoes sautéed just until the juices flow and they begin to pop …. yeah, that’s precisely what you want. And it takes 10 minutes tops, start to finish.
On this blog four years ago: Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce (this is really good, especially if you don’t feel like turning on the stove for even 10 minutes)
On this blog three years ago: Peterson Garden Project Update – The Brown Period
On this blog two years ago: Raspberry Crème Croustilant
On this blog one year ago: Baking Bread with a Master – Emmanuel Hadjiandreou
QUICK CHERRY TOMATO SAUCE
approximately 1 cup dried pasta such as gemilli or penne
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes, rinsed and stemmed
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
kosher salt & ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
- Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
- While the water is coming to a boil, prep your ingredients – rinse and stem the tomatoes, thinly slice the garlic and chop the basil.
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions (usually 5-8 minutes) and put a colander in the sink.
- When there is 5 minutes left on the pasta cooking time, heat a sauté pan over medium high.
- Add the olive oil and when hot, add the tomatoes, stirring and swirling the pan until they begin to pop and collapse.
- Halfway through just when the tomatoes start to wrinkle a bit but before they pop, add the sliced garlic, butter and a good pinch each of salt and pepper. If the pan looks a bit dry, add a few Tablespoons of chicken stock or water.
- When the pasta is ready, drain completely – do not rinse – then add to the pan with the tomatoes, tossing to coat.
- Stir in the basil, transfer to a bowl and top with a little parmesan. Eat.