Insomnia, while a vile, will-sapping, murderous, castrating, tit-crushing bastard bitch--does have its uses. Some people write novels, others clean house, stargaze or listen for owls. Recently I woke up at 3 a.m. thinking about fresh tomatoes.
I have three 4X8 raised beds in my back yard in which I grow salad vegetables, summer and butternut squash, beets, onions, eggplants and tomatoes. Last year a wet summer produced more wilting foliage than anything else in the tomato patch, but this year, there are plenty.
In the past, when I lived in Delaware and had a large garden, I have canned tomatoes, made ketchup, chili sauce and spaghetti sauce. I'm not crazy about spaghetti sauce from fresh tomatoes...you have to cook it down so long it spoils the flavor.
Et Voila! I Have The Answer. Here is a recipe for a fresh tomato sauce that doesn't need to be cooked down, and is absolutely delicious. Recipe served two generously.
You will need: one small onion, diced. One clove of garlic, diced fine. About six medium-sized tomatoes. A few leaves--maybe three-- of fresh or frozen basil. BEWARE of basil that has flower buds! It will be bitter! Use a pinch of dry basil instead. Don't overdo the basil. One tablespoon of olive oil. One tablespoon of butter. (Well...maybe a tablespoon and a half.) Fresh parmesan. Good quality pasta...fettucini would be my first choice. I added about eight peeled, cooked, deveined shrimp--took 'em out of the freezer, thawed them to the point that I could pull their tails off, then cut them into chunks. You could use diced cooked chicken breast, or any other savory addition: just season it well and cook it seperately if it takes any length of time. Or skip it...there is plenty of yum here without any other additions.
Fill a medium-large saucepan with water, add some salt, and bring to a boil. Saute the diced onion in the olive oil until it softens and barely begins to brown at the edges. Add the garlic, and saute another minute or two, just long enough to soften the tiny garlic bits. Don't let it burn! Turn it off. Err on the side of caution. Drop the tomatoes a couple at a time into the boiling water for a minute or two to scald. You can do all of this at the same time if you pay attention.
Remove the tomatoes from the water in batches and cool slightly. Core and peel--the peel will slip off faster than a prom dress, and with almost as much promise. Cut each tomato in quarters vertically and remove the seeds and the whitish stuff around them. Dice the resulting pulp. Congratulate yourself: you have just made tomato concasse (there's an accent on that last "e" that I don't know how to produce.)
Add the chopped tomatoes to the frying pan, and add the tablespoon of butter, a grind of pepper and a pinch of salt. Saute until the butter melts and the tomatoes become soft and meld with the other ingredients. If using the frozen shrimp, add them now. As soon as the mixture comes to a good simmer again, add the basil and turn off the heat.
If you have used organic, homegrown beefsteak-type tomatoes, use the tomato scalding water to cook the pasta. If using tomatoes of unknown origin, discard the water and start over. Salt the pasta water.
Combine the pasta and the tomato mixture, and sprinkle generously with parmesan cheese--or romano, if you prefer. Go light on the amount of pasta. The sauce will be thin, but scrumptious. Go ahead and lick your plate--nobody's watching,
As the Immortal Julia would say...but you know what she would say. I say: enjoy the last taste of summer.