Whether you find yourself with an abundance of late summer tomatoes bursting from your garden, or you are tempted by the gorgeous varieties at the market – you may find yourself wondering how to make the most of them. Sliced tomatoes with salt, pepper, torn fresh basil, a drizzle of evoo and balsamic are really all you need to savor these gems in their seasonal peak. Add a hunk of fresh mozzarella or burrata, some toasted pine nuts, maybe some pesto, and grilled toast for a simple but delicious start to a meal with friends.
It almost seems a sin to cook these beautiful, juicy, sweet fruits into a sauce unless, of course, you crave a sauce that far outshines the store-bought sauce in your cupboard or the recipe that calls for whole peeled canned tomatoes. By all means save plenty of tomatoes to eat in all their natural glory, but for the rest simmer them down and take comfort in the old-world tradition of stirrin’ da sauce.
Heirloom Tomato Marinara
- 3 lbs. variety of tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp each butter and olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3 shallots, minced
- 1 fresno chili, minced with seeds
- 12 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 each bay leaves, rosemary sprigs, thyme sprigs
- 3/4 cup each red and white wine
- 1 large bunch fresh basil, chopped
- Salt & pepper
- Fill a large heavy-bottomed pot with water and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, wash tomatoes, remove cores, and score an ‘X’ on the bottom of each.
- Prepare a large bowl of ice water.
- Gently drop tomatoes into the boiling water and cook for one minute. Transfer tomatoes to the ice water. This makes removing the skins much easier. (This trick works for peaches too!)
- Peel tomatoes, cut into quarters, and set aside in a bowl with any tomato juice.
- Pour out water (or pour into another receptacle to cool to water your garden or houseplants).
- Using the now empty pot, heat the butter and oil over medium heat and add onions, shallots, and chili. Stir with a wooden spoon and let cook for about 4 minutes.
- Add garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme and cook for another few minutes.
- Add the red and white wine, turn up the heat and let boil for 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and juice, cover with a lid and turn down to low. Simmer for 45 minutes.
- Remove lid, give it a good stir and continue simmering for 2-5 hours. The longer you simmer the deeper the flavor, but keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn’t dry out. If it looks dry, add a little water and remove from heat.
- Depending on how you like your sauce, you can blend your sauce to make it smoother. I used an immersion blender but be sure to remove the bay leaves and woody sprigs of rosemary and thyme before doing so.
- Add the basil as well as salt and pepper to taste. If you want it spicier add red pepper flakes. If you want it creamy add a touch of cream. Just keep tasting it until it is perfect.
- Put it on pasta, in a meatball sandwich, with your shakshuka, on a pizza, with fried eggplant, on polenta, over grilled chicken, in a jar with ribbons and gift it, or freeze it for the impending non-tomato season.