HEIRLOOM TOMATO SAUCE & BASIL
I was a cooking fool over the weekend and made a fresh batch of Heirloom Tomato Sauce & Basil. It’s simple to prepare and bursting with fresh summer vine ripe flavor, this dish is truly one of my favorites to make in late summer. I made a batch of sauce last week and pureed it into a smooth Tomato soup (Blended in Vitamix). I’m learning how to can tomatoes but for now I’m freezing the sauce for Fall and early Winter in small portions. I’m trying to make a batch every weekend or until the heirlooms are no longer in season. And will be experimenting with other heirloom varieties and more traditional San Marzano plum tomatoes for fresh simple sauce.
I had dinner at Scarpetta’s in Beverly Hills a few weeks ago and ordered Chef Scott Conant’s signature dish – Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Basil, of course, and was pleasantly surprised! It’s a single portion of pasta cooked just shy of al dente and held together with a bubbling serving of tomato sauce. Here’s a picture of the meal, I honestly can’t believe I remembered to take the photo before I took a bite. And the recipe to follow will be for a simple Tomato Sauce (with many uses) with an option to make Scott’s Sauce for this dish.
SIMPLE HEIRLOOM TOMATO SAUCE & BASIL
- 8 – 10 Large Heirloom Tomatoes (or 20 ripe plum tomatoes)
- 1/3 Cup Olive Oil, Plus more for finishing the sauce
- 1 Tsp of Crushed Red Pepper
- Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
- 15 Basil Leaves, Chopped
To Peel the Tomatoes – Cut a small X on the bottom of each tomato then Bring a large pot of water to a boil and drop the tomatoes (3 at a time) into the boiling water for 30 seconds or until you see the skin starting to peel back.
Immediately remove from the boiling water and stop the cooking process by dropping them into an ice bath.
The skins will be easy to remove once blanched.
Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds with your fingers the best you can. To cook the tomatoes, heat olive oil in another large pot, add the cut tomatoes over a med-high heat and season with the crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.
Then add the basil. Stack the leaves, roll into a cylinder and cut thinly.
Allow the sauce to simmer and cook for about 20 mins, then using a potato masher, chop the tomatoes in the pot. This will thicken the sauce.
Allow to cook for another 10 – 15 mins and you’ll have a very simple Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Basil that you can use for many dishes or freeze/can.
Here’s the recipe to make Scott’s Sauce and serve immediately:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti to al dente. Drain the pasta, reserve a little of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the sauce and cook over med-high heat, gently tossing the pasta with sauce. Take the pan off the heat, toss in butter (1 – 2 Tablespoons) and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 Cup or more depending on the amount of pasta you make) and serve immediately.