My Summer of Sauce

In Season, Ingredient
on July 6, 2012

Due to my daughter's employment at a local produce stand this summer,  baskets of super-ripe, second-hand tomatoes (covered by a kitchen towel to keep the fruit flies at bay) are a regular in the landscape of my kitchen. But unlike apples, oranges or pears, that lay patiently waiting to be eaten or cooked in a pie, these super soft juicy tomatoes  are impatient and restless, itchy to plunge into a saucepan of sauteed onions for a fresh sauce, or  a blender with cucumber for a cooling gazpacho. No, there isn’t another day for these juicy red orbs.

So I’ve coined this my “summer of sauce,” which has been perpetually simmering on the back of the stove. I’m sure there are better or more elaborate recipes for sauce, but I can’t find one that suits me better. I don’t use tomato paste or any thickener here, so this is a fresh chunky sauce with bits of colorful tomatoes about. I crush the tomatoes with my hands, to capture all the juice. The other ingredients are simple, basil from my garden, an onion, a red bell pepper for sweetness, and a splash of vinegar, salt and sugar and some raw garlic to punch it up. It’s a multi-purpose sauce–that with a dose of heavy cream and fresh basil morphs into creamy tomato basil soup or with chunks of fresh mozzarella and croutons, a gazpacho. Our jars of sauce wait patiently in the freezer all winter. Enjoy.

—Jill Melton, Relish Editor