Here is an annoying thing I do whenever people come over to visit: I drag them to my side yard so that I can show off my tomato plants and loudly exclaim “how wonderful it is to have tomatoes straight from your own garden!”
Isn’t that SO ANNOYING?! I can’t help it. Before we moved to California I’d never grown tomatoes, and for whatever reason having everything to do with luck and nothing whatsoever to do with my abilities, the tomato vines that I plant every summer grow into freaking trees within weeks. I mean it: they are massive, and so heavy that they can’t be contained by ordinary tomato plant container-things, and end up spilling out into the path, and it’s all very dramatic and smells AMAZING.
The thing is, I’m soooo good at tomato-growing that I always end up with way more tomatoes than we can reasonably eat. I send my kids out into the yard to gather them up every night, but still: the branches are practically been hanging to the ground from all the weight. So the other night, I decided it was time to do something that’d use up massive quantities of them in a way that would still let their flavor come through, and made marinara sauce using a combination of heirlooms and cherry tomatoes – basically, whatever was ripe.
When you find yourself wanting to take an entire pot of pasta into bed with you and eat it with a big wooden spoon while watching episode after epsiode of This Is Us, you know you’ve landed on a solid recipe.
What You Need:
- Lots of tomatoes. I eyeballed all the proportions here, but I’d say 3 cups of assorted ripe tomatoes should yield you enough sauce for four people.
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped
- A big handful of fresh basil
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
What You Do:
Heat a large pot of water to boiling, then add the tomatoes and let them boil a couple of minutes, until the skins loosen. Remove them to a bowl with a slotted spoon, and once cool enough, pull the skins off. (You can cut up any very large tomatoes at this point, but you don’t have to.)
Heat a little olive oil in a pot, then add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds-1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, some torn basil leaves, salt and pepper to taste, and a little water – start with about 1/2 cup, and add more as the tomatoes cook down and thicken to get the consistency you like.
Once the tomatoes have cooked down for awhile (you can cook them on low for a couple of hours, but I’m impatient, so I only cooked them down for about 30 minutes), you can use an immersion blender to puree them – I don’t have one, but the texture came out really nice anyway.
Finish by tossing with the cooked pasta of your choice, a little reserved pasta water, and salt and pepper to taste. Tear some more fresh basil leaves over the top just before serving.
Pictured: Noritake China Cher Blanc Plates