I admit, if I didn’t have a friend with a really big greenhouse, I’d never make tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes. If you are lucky enough to have lots of tomatoes, you can increase the amount of sauce accordingly, to freeze. It’s a variation on one of Lynne Rosetto Kasper’s tomato sauce recipes in The Italian Country Table. Most tomato sauce recipes (including hers) tell you to use a food mill to get rid of the skins at the end of the process, but 1) I don’t have a food mill, and 2) I like my sauce chunky. So I just peeled the tomatoes at the beginning to avoid the little tough bits of skin in the sauce, and blendered it up a little at the end.
2 pounds ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, minced fine
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced fine (the easiest way I’ve found is to use a coffee grinder)
sea salt or kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
2 large cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon sugar
pasta & toppings
½ pound pasta, such as spaghetti. (I prefer whole-wheat.)
kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. You can use this water to prepare the tomatoes, and then to boil the pasta, so wash your tomatoes first. Mark an “X” in the bottom of each tomato with a serrated knife. Put 3 or 4 tomatoes in the water at a time for 30 seconds to a minute, until the skin starts to peel away from the “X.” Remove tomatoes with a slotted spoon, and cool in a bowl as you dip the other tomatoes. Peel the skin off the tomatoes and remove the core with a paring knife. Cut the peeled tomatoes into wedges.
2. Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt and sauté the onions to golden-brown, stirring often with a wooden spatula.
3. Stir in the rosemary, garlic, tomatoes, and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often and scraping down the sides of the pot. Cook about 15 minutes, until the tomatoes have thickened and the tomato flesh is softened.
4. At this point, you’ll probably still have lots of chunks of tomato flesh in the pot. If you like it chunky, leave it this way. I wanted it a little smoother, though, so I used an immersion blender to puree some of the tomato pieces into the sauce. It still left the sauce quite chunky. If you don’t have an immersion blender, put some of the sauce into a blender and puree.
5. Now, stir it all around and taste it. Add more salt until you have the right balance of flavors. If you want the sauce to be thicker, boil it down some more.
6. Salt the tomato-dipping water and bring it back to a boil. Cook your pasta in that fiercely boiling water until done to your liking.
7. Serve the pasta with generous amounts of sauce, and top with a sprinkling of olives and parsley.