Tomatoes! Of course we can get them year-round, but they are literally ripe for the picking in the summer. Right now they are sweet and juicy and perfect for countless recipes.
While there is nothing wrong with eating produce that isn’t technically in season, eating a fruit or vegetable at its peak means it is far more affordable, and also just tastes better. It also means that it’s less likely to be shipped to you from someplace warm (which means it’s better for the environment). So take advantage of the beautiful tomatoes at your grocery store (or on your own vines!) right now if you can.
Since summer is prime time for entertaining, you might want to try some different ways to prepare those ripe tomatoes. Here is a fun and quick idea that you can easily cook ahead of time and freeze. Thawing it for a quick dinner is a great way to have an easy weeknight option. It’s an oldie but a goodie, and it’s my version of the classic.
Note that this sauce doesn’t have to be used with pasta. You can spoon it over grilled chicken for a delicious and healthy meal. It can also be used for chicken Parmesan recipes. (Pan fry lightly breaded chicken cutlets, add this pomodoro sauce, top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, and melt quickly in the oven!)
Easy-Peasy Homemade Pomodoro Sauce with Pasta
- 2.5 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 lbs. of ripe tomatoes (about 8 or 9 tomatoes)
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- Handful of fresh basil, cut into thin ribbons
- 1 lb. of pasta (your choice of shape)
- 1 cup of reserved cooking water from the pasta
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Grated Parmesan cheese (optional but preferred, for topping)
- ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (optional). Note that this small amount of crushed red pepper will not make the recipe spicy, it will just give it a nice bite. Feel free to add more or less, according to your preferences.
- Get a large pot of boiling water going on the stove for the pasta. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to it (this is your only opportunity to season the pasta itself, so the salt is key). Cook the pasta according to instructions while working on the sauce. Right before you drain it into a colander, use a mug to collect a cup of the starchy water and set it aside for later.
- Boil water in a medium pot as well. This will be for the tomatoes.
- Using a knife, make a shallow “X” into each of the tomatoes. When the medium pot of water is boiling, turn off the heat, and drop in a few tomatoes at a time (you can do them in batches—no need to put them all in at once). Let them sit in the boiled water for about a minute, and then fish them out with a slotted spoon. Run them under cold water, and remove the peel (which should come off very easily). When all the tomatoes are peeled, put them in a bowl and squish them with your hands to break them up.
- In a large sauté pan, heated over medium-high heat, add the oil. As soon as it begins to shimmer, add the garlic and lower the heat to medium. It’s important not to let the garlic burn.
- As the garlic begins to cook (this goes quickly, so be careful), add about ¼ of the basil and the crushed red pepper flakes.
- Just as the garlic is getting fragrant and slightly translucent, add the tomatoes to the pan. Season with a teaspoon of salt, and add in half of the remaining basil.
- Stir occasionally to keep from burning, but let it simmer and cook down on medium heat.
- When the tomatoes have mostly cooked down to a sauce (it’s ok for it to be chunky), slowly add your pasta to the pan and toss together. If it’s getting dry and sticky, add a little of the reserved cooking water.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and top it off with the rest of the basil.
- Serve with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.
- Buon appetito!