Sunday, August 16, 2015

(Almost) No-Cooking Required

I've been making this no-cook tomato sauce for about nine years. Sometime in 2006, I hosted a summer dinner for my parents. I brought out this no-cook tomato sauce with angel hair pasta and my father exclaimed, "I saw this on the cover of Bon Appetit. I turned to your mother and said, "That's definitely a Claudia meal."

And so it has been. And I treasure that little memory (funny what you remember, isn't it?). I did indeed make it with angel hair pasta for eight years. And the tomato sauce slid off the pasta and happily attached itself to the bottom of the bowl. I got used to eating a forkful of pasta and then a forkful of sauce. Both were tasty enough. And they seemed destined to never be a couple on a fork.

I am making a concerted effort to use up my bounty (the above is what I have been getting twice a day). I have shared with neighbors, given bushels away to the kids and sent bags of bounty to Paul's work. I am serious about growing sunflowers next summer. After all, the Farmer's Market is teeming with vegetables. And I don't can. And I don't intend to start.

In my ninth year of making no-cook tomato sauce, I wised up. I thought, "Aha! Tubular pasta! That's the ticket! The sauce can get inside the tubes and I will finally have pasta and its sauce together on  fork.

Well, no. It slid out of the rigatoni and down to the bottom of the bowl. I supposed I could literally stuff the chopped tomatoes into penne and finally get my double-forkful - but that seems like a lot of work for the summer.

But even if I don't have luck with getting the pasta and the sauce to marry - I do proclaim its deliciousness, it's ability to use up a lot of tomatoes at one sitting and the smiley-face that Paul puts on when he learns we are having this for dinner.

No Cook Tomato Sauce - for four but two are very happy with it
(This is more of a suggestion than a recipe)
8-12 tomatoes (depending on size and variety. I Used about 4 plum tomatoes, 3 San Marzano tomatoes and a bunch of sweet cherry tomatoes.)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves - cut into slivers
1/4-1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley
(can also use oregano and thyme)
3-4 garlic cloves - minced or sliced
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil
salt and red pepper to taste
Parmesan for serving

1/2-1 pound your favorite pasta

Coarsely chop your tomatoes. No peeling or seeding is necessary. Early in the day, combine all the ingredients. Cover and let sit on your cabinet for the day. The flavors will meld - at least the flavors will marry.

These days, I warm the garlic in the olive oil to get rid of the pungent taste. It's a sweeter, gentler sauce. But - not absolutely necessary.

Moving on.

Below is the prettiest soup. I saw it in The St. Paul Pioneer Press and noted that it used up a zucchini, a tomato and a cucumber. And that's been my mission the last few weeks. Use up! It's tangy and refreshing and we have started many a meal with this.

Buttermilk-Yogurt Soup
2-1/2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup yogurt
1 cucumber - diced
1 tomato - diced
1 zucchini - thinly sliced
4 tablespoons fresh chives
2 tablespoons thyme
salt and pepper to taste

(You can also use thinly sliced radishes, scallions.......)

Combine. Chill at least one hour or overnight.

(Don't you just love recipes like this?)

And from Frank's blog Memorie di Angelina:

Caponata napoletana

And I'll send you to him for the recipe: Caponata Napoletana. It's so good, we have had it as our salad, for lunch and this morning - for breakfast!

I've mentioned before the changes that happen in your sixties - not the obvious - "woe-is-me-I'm-ageing" but the subtle changes that occur. The ability to know yourself and accept yourself in a way that didn't always seem possible before (and I wish it did for me but better late than never). Aside from not loving temps about 75 degrees F anymore (which may be a by-product of finally morphing into a Minnesotan), I've lost my love of cities. I still love visiting the arts and culture and will continue to do so - but when I have time - I look for the green space. Is it the density in the cities? Not sure. But this former New York City diehard can find her thoughts better out in the open. And so we head to Big Sky country tomorrow - just because.

And on our way to Montana, we will be passing through the sunflower fields in South Dakota. (There's poetry out there.)

I hear Will Nelson singing to me, "Big Skies..... smiling at me...."

Or something like that. That song still makes me smile.

Happy mid-August!