by Libby Sternberg
The tomato army has arrived. They’re stealthy. We find them hiding under foliage, glinting red in the shadows, just waiting. Waiting to march, to attack, to take over….at least the kitchen.
Although we only have a few tomato plants, they produce baskets full of fruit. Which reminds me of that old adage…Knowledge is knowing the tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to use it in a fruit salad. (Or maybe wisdom is knowing how to use fruit and tomatoes together.) But I digress….
So, I’ve been looking for things to cook/make with tomatoes. I love tomato, mozzarella salad, and am fond of a version using grape tomatoes and mozzarella balls in a basil-heavy vinaigrette with thinly sliced red onions. Speaking of thinly sliced, we are fond of bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches, but MLTs not so much. (Actually, I’ve never tried one.):
Having so many tomatoes finally inspired me to do something I’ve never ever ever ever done before. In my entire life. That is….peel a tomato! To make tomato sauce from scratch. Peeling a tomato, it turns out, is pretty easy. You need to shock them, and they lose their skins faster than Joe Nichols’s girlfriend sheds her clothes after throwing back some Patron.
I asked my daughter-in-law, who is of Sicilian heritage, for a good recipe, and she was kind enough to pass along her father’s. But I wimped out on following his directions for my first time, because it sounded as if you needed to have the right touch and taste to get it right. I’ll try his for my next batch:
For 6 people, use 6 ripe tomatoes, 1 can peeled tomato, half bunch of basil, half bunch of parsley, 5 garlic cloves, 3 oz of parmigiano cheese, 3 oz olive oil, salt and pepper. Dip the tomatoes in hot water for few minute, then peel and chop in very small pieces, chop the can tomatoes and use the juice, too; chop the rest of the ingredients and mix everything; taste if you need more salt and olive oil. Add oregano.
I ended up at Smitten Kitchen. They have pictures! So I was able to see what the tomatoes are supposed to look like, etc. Here’s the link to their recipe.
At the end, I blended all my sauce ingredients in a food processor after cooking. And I have to say, we really enjoyed the result. The sauce actually tasted like….tomatoes! Not like salt, not like sugar, not like something with a metallic overtone. Next time, I’ll follow my daughter-in-law’s father’s instructions because I think mine could have used more garlic and basil. And there will be a next time. The basket is already full with another army of tomatoes.
In case you’re wondering where the title of this post comes from, it’s the title of an epic film that, oddly enough, never won any Oscars. I’m particularly fond of its catchy theme song.
Libby Sternberg is a novelist. Please buy her books so she can buy more tomato plants next year.