One should never waste a windfall of tomatoes, even if they are winter tomatoes in less than ideal shape. In fact, that makes deciding what to do with them all the easier. Sauce! Saucing is my favorite solution for any lackluster fruit. To sauce tomatoes I get a big pot and glug in some olive oil. I then saute some garlic in there, occasionally some onions…This time I didn’t have any onions so I just put in garlic. To make extra-nice sauce it is a good idea to blanch tomatoes to remove their skins. You slice an x in the bottom of the fruit and drop them in boiling water for about 3 minutes and then put them in a big bowl of ice to shock them straight after. The skins slip off easy as pie after that. However, I was feeling lazy and I don’t mind a rustic sauce (which is what I am calling sauce that has bits of tomato skin in it), so I didn’t bother.
I sliced the tomatoes up and strip out the watery pulp and seeds and drop them into the pot. I put the lid on the pot and let it lightly boil until the tomatoes broke down into a watery sauce. There is a lot of water in tomatoes and frankly I like my sauce to be thick and flavorful so I leave the lid off to let some of the water evaporate so that the sauce condenses. At this point I add any herbs and spices that I want-basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary are all good places to start. This day though I felt pretty bold and reckless (as seen with not removing the skin on the tomatoes) so I dug out a tin of dried peppers that I grew two summers ago and snipped off bits of them into the sauce. As I watched the seeds of the peppers cascade into the sauce, I thought, “Uh-Oh.” The seeds contain an enormous amount of heat as it is the pepper’s way of insuring that its seeds do not get eaten and thus making sure it reproduces.
I stirred the sauce and lifted it to my mouth. A pause to steel myself, and then I tasted. AIEEEE! Coughing and hacking with watering eyes, I staggered to the refrigerator, yanked out the gallon of milk and poured myself a glass, splashing across the counter top in the process. I spent the next ten minutes with my tongue soaking in a cup of milk while I meditated thoughtfully on capsicum, the Scoville scale, and the miracles of dairy. I had some left over heavy cream that I had used to make chocolate mousse recently still in the fridge. I pulled it out and proceeded to freehand pour it into the sauce until it turned a creamy orange. After a second fortifying glass of milk, I tasted the sauce. It was creamy with a heat to it that left my tongue feeling warmed but not on fire. This is the sauce I poured onto the homemade gnocchi that I wrote about in my last blog entry. Delicious!