Friday, July 05, 2013

easy salsa fresca tutorial

I've said it before and I'll say it again: heirloom tomatoes, the darlings of hipster urban pioneers, are overrated. Sure, you can't help but be charmed by their mottled green-red skin, muscular build, and retro pedigree. But heirlooms are all style and no substance. Or flavor. Case in point: I was hoping to use my CSA share heirloom tomatoes in a cucumber-tomato salad at F-stop's 4th of July dinner last night....

This week's CSA share, starting clockwise, with our culprit at 9 o'clock: heirloom tomatoes, onion, collard greens, green leaf lettuce, dill, cucumbers, yellow and green squash, foot-long beans, carrots with tops and garlic. You may also spy, Pablo, the produce inspector.
But one taste, and we resorted to plan B, some tasty organic grape tomatoes that he fortunately happened to have on hand.

Last night's Plan B Cucumber-Tomato Salad. The understudy grape tomatoes had to full in for the diva heirlooms, which were too anemic to perform.
Dinner crisis averted. But that still left me with two ginormous heirloom tomatoes to use up. Since I need extra carbs for my long run tomorrow [Your body uses much more glycogen in this blazing heat and humidity], I decided to whip up a quick salsa fresca – a quick, light tomato sauce for pasta made from fresh tomatoes. If you want exact proportions, the original recipe appears in my first cookbook but it's so easy that I'm just posting a photo recipe here. 

Whereas "gravy" or traditional marinara sauce is thick, this pasta sauce is lighter, perfect for summer. I used 3 very large tomatoes. The long simmer seemed to sweeten them. These directions make enough sauce for 2 large servings of pasta, but it's easily doubled or tripled. Buon appetito!

Salsa Fresca Photo Tutorial


 Garlic cloves, minced, to taste [I used 5; I love garlic]

 About 1/4 cup finely chopped onion and 3-4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped

 About 1-2 T olive oil 

 Salt and red pepper flakes, to taste. You can also add any compatible fresh or dried herb you like [eg, basil, oregano, thyme]

A handful of toasted pine nuts: an optional-but-delicious topping

When you get started the sauce will be quite watery...
  • Heat the oil over medium in a sauce pan. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook for a few minutes. Add onion and cook until soft.
  • Add tomatoes, and dried herbs if using [add fresh herbs about 5 minutes before serving] and turn up heat.  The mixture will be quite watery.
  • Lower heat to medium and cook for about an hour, uncovered, or until no longer watery and reduced by about 1/3. Toss with your favorite pasta [al dente, please], topped with nutritional yeast and perhaps some toasted pine nuts or almonds.
Sauce, after simmering for an hour: the tomatoes sweeten and cook down
Heirloom tomato makes good.

My mis-en-place

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1 comment:

Theresa said...

Mmm, that's one of my fave recipes from your first book. And we have tomatoes on the bush right now, and will have a glut of them this week. Perfect use!