Fresh Tomatoes

On Sunday, my new neighbor asked me if I liked tomatoes – yes, without question; I love them in all forms and dishes. On Monday, he brought me over a full shopping bag of plum tomatoes. 🙂

My husband and eldest are less than fond of eating them fresh, so I had to use some of them in a way that they would enjoy too. Pasta quickly came to mind and I turned to my favorite starting point, Epicurious.com  for ideas. I came across a recipe for a fresh tomato sauce with Kalamata olives (another favorite) and knew it would work. 

As an aside on recipes, I use them frequently but not as rules. It’s important to remember that your tastes and preferences are not the same as the author’s. Also some recipes have been written for speed in the kitchen and while some shortcuts are ok, others can negatively impact the flavor of the dish. If you look up this recipe, you will find that the original version has a grand total of 6 minutes of cooking time, I expect so that it can entirely be done while your pasta boils. While raw onion has it’s place, my preference in a fresh tomato sauce is to taste the tomatoes not the onions; so my version below is different, their natural sweetness is released and the flavors come together. Also in my notes is an optional inclusion of meatballs, my husband and boys have made it clear that they prefer a protein with their meals. 

I also included a salad (don’t overlook the importance of vegetables). I tend to buy pre-washed organic lettuce and greens and always wash them myself, it just isn’t worth the risk. To add an Italian flair I got mixed spring greens, added on sliced leftover Cappicola (from the Italian Panini), and small balls of fresh Mozzarella cut in half with a balsamic dressing. 

  
Fusilli with Fresh Tomato and Olive Sauce

makes 6-8 ∙ source Bon Appétit | August 1999

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 T. cup olive oil
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives, pitted, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ⅓ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1½ pounds plum tomatoes (about 8 large), chopped
  • 4 oz. tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 pound fusilli (or similar-sized pasta)
  • 1½ cups coarsely grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil

DIRECTIONS

Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and heat until translucent, about 10 minutes. Then add garlic and crushed red pepper and sauté until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Stir in olives and tomato paste then continue cooking for a few minutes longer. Add tomatoes and vinegar, season to taste with ground pepper, then simmer unil tomatoes have fallen apart, 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package instructions.

Place the cooked pasta in a large bowl and toss with 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese and fresh basil and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with remaining Parmesan cheese.

NOTES

Stirring in the basil at the end keeps it fresh and green in your dish. 

Optional: I also slowly seared 2 lbs. of 1 oz. meatballs and stirred those into the dish.

This is just before I sturred it all together; makes for a prettier picture.
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