let's start with the "best tomato sauce in the world" story. my husband peter is not one to succumb to hyperbole and "red sauces" for pasta are not his favorite thing. he will eat them...but does not rave about them. last week i was given a huge bowl of cherry tomatoes that were so ripe they had actually split. i was helping a friend cater an event...we were making tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil on skewers appetizers...and 1/2 of the tomatoes were unusable for this dish. score for me. that day was packed with projects and i needed an easy, effortless way to use my unexpected gift. the result? slow roasted tomato sauce...pure magic.
the key to the sauce...and there is no point in making it if you ignore this point...is to use the best, freshest, organically grown tomatoes and best quality ingredients (the ingredients really do make the difference). slow roasting concentrates the flavors and enriches the sweetness. plus, it takes 5 minutes to assemble and then you can pop in the oven and forget about it for hours. there really isn't a recipe...just a very flexible technique. you can use whatever quantity of ingredients you like. here is what i did:
the best tomato sauce in the world
ripe, organically grown, in-season extra sweet cherry tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
good quality pure balsamic vinegar
pinch of red pepper flakes
fresh basil, torn into pieces
preheat oven to 275 degrees. add tomatoes to a rimmed baking sheet. with a sharp knife, pierce each tomato. ( this will ensure they deflate while roasting as you do not want hot tomato juice exploding in your mouth. since my tomatoes were split, this step was completed for me by mother nature). chop onion and mince garlic and add to the baking sheet. drizzle the e.v.o.o. over the tomatoes...about 6 passes of the bottle. drizzle the balsamic over the vegetables...about 3 passes of the bottle. sprinkle a pinch each of the salt and pepper over the vegetables and place in preheated oven for 2-4 hours. the longer you roast, the sweeter the final result.
prepare pasta according to package directions. when ready to serve, place cooked pasta in a serving dish. pour in the roasted tomato mixture, ensuring you get every drop of the juice. stir into the pasta. add the fresh basil, adjust seasonings if desired and serve with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.
my second tomato story of the summer happened last night. i was invited to a "bloggers' dinner" at gott's roadside restaurant. gott's...formally known as taylor's refresher...is a napa institution...serving the best burgers, fries, sandwiches and salads possible. gott's has three locations...two in napa and one at the ferry building in san francisco. this is their story:
all gott's photos courtesy ashley teplin
"since 1999, joel and duncan gott have kept alive a tradition of classic handmade american food. born on a roadside, raised in a ferry building, our family-run kitchen serves up mighty fine eats that draw people from all over. artisanal ingredients in traditional recipes combine for a refreshing take on old favorites. surprising menu special keep hungry customers coming back to see what's next. and carefully chosen beers and wines make eating this good even better. bring your family, friends, or just your big appetite. whether there's two people or twenty ahead of you in line, we'll make it worth your while".
as someone who has stood in line there many, many times...i was thrilled to be invited to the dinner. gott's has taken 2 acres of their st helena property and planted, as garden manager christopher landercasper (landy) told me "over two miles of vegetables if you lined them up in a row". their objective is to exclusively use their own organically farmed produce in their food. this summer they are featuring daily specials with fresh-from-their-garden produce...offerings such as fried zucchini with ranch dip (all herbs from the garden), pesto potato fries and fried green tomatoes.
garden manager christopher landercasper, "landy" photo courtesy ashley teplin
but last night's dinner was all about tomatoes...gott's has over 700 tomato plants and they harvest daily. they are anticipating over a ton a week starting in september! and executive chef rick robinson has been playing around with tomato recipes all summer and created a "round the world tour of bread & tomato" dishes for us. we started with pa amb tomaquet (grilled bread rubbed with garlic & tomatoes and moved on to gazpacho, panzanella, tomato, zucchini & chevre tart, scalloped tomatoes and ended with "southern tomato sandwiches"...chef rick's homage to his north carolina roots...white wonder bread spread with "duke's" a brand of mayo he had shipped from the south for the occasion, thickly cut beefsteak tomatoes, salt and pepper. you know what? it was delicious!
gott's executive chef rick robinson, photo courtesy ashley teplin
if that wasn't enough (it was, but what the heck?) we moved on to burgers...because it is not really gott's without burgers...so beef and vegetarian options were offered...and we ended with fresh-from-the-garden (of course) melons topped with locally made vanilla ice cream. the wine served was spot on (we live in napa after all) and...probably the best touch...the other bloggers are good friends...so perfect weather, terrific friends and delicious, locally grown food....a perfect night all around.
every dish was wonderful...and i have enough notes from the garden tour for numerous stories...so eventually i will post each recipe. today i am starting with the gazpacho because it was my favorite. it was so amazingly good that i urge each of you to go out...gather the ingredients...and begin making this today. i am a gazpacho fan but...as chef rick says "there are a lot of insipid gazpachos out there) ha! my favorite quote of the night....this one is perfect and...if i may be so bold...the best gazpacho in the world...
gott's gazpacho chef rick reports that this "classic cold soup of andalusia features tomatoes and cucumbers from gott's garden, and is thickened with bread in the classic style".
yield- approx 1 gallon
7 lbs ripe, in season tomatoes
1 lb red onion, peeled & chopped
1 lb green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 lb cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1.5 lbs ripe, in season tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 t cayenne
1/8 c + 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1/8 cup + 1 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 good quality baguette, two days old, crusts removed and cut into 1" cubes
method-prep work day before:
1. finely chop 7 lbs of tomatoes in cuisinart, mix with 1 tbsp salt and refrigerate overnight in non reactive container (do not use a metal bowl).
2. mix remaining ingredients, and refrigerate overnight in non reactive container.
3. the next day, strain all liquid out of the reserved tomatoes with a sieve or china cap (a conical sieve with an extremely fine mesh) that will allow some pulp, but no seeds and skins through. work to get all juice, then discard pulp, skins and seeds.
4. combine strained tomato liquid with other vegetables and seasonings and blend. (a blender will give better texture than a cuisinart, but either is acceptable.)
5. garnish with some sliced green onions, if you like, or taking it a step further, a little chopped salsa of tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, bell pepper garnished with croutons.
ok...there is my tomato fest post for 2010...hyperbole? maybe...but i think not...try the recipes and let me know what you think in the comments section of this post.
now it is your turn to participate in summer fest. simply leave your tomato tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below, and then go visit the collaborators listed on the blog away to garden and do the same...be sure to check out the comments because all of my fellow tomato dinner bloggers will be posting links to their blogs with their gott's story...check them out...i am fortunate to be friends with some amazing writers...
the cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. yes, copy and paste them everywhere! that way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. everyone benefits, and some pretty great dialog starts simmering.
always...much thanks to margaret roach
best and happy cooking!
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