Red fruits are ripening: tomatoes and cherries!

Time flies when you spend it in the kitchen.  It seems that’s where I’ve been for about the past week or so.  It seems like I have been cooking non-stop since last Tuesday.  We got tomatoes with our CSA share that day, so when I got home, I made my pasta sauce that I’ve been dreaming about non-stop since last winter.  I didn’t have enough to can, but we ate it over fresh penne (also from the CSA share) and I had enough left over that we’ll definitely have pizza this week.  Ooh!  Wait!  We are getting eggplant with our shares this week–maybe we’ll have eggplant Parmesan instead!  Oh, the possibilities….

My neighbor 2 houses down has a sour (pie) cherry tree in her front yard.  Every summer she puts a sign in her front yard: “Free pie cherries–You pick.”  Last summer I was out of town so much that I never made it down to pick any cherries.  This summer I thought I’d wait to see if anyone was going to claim them…but they never did.  I talked with her one night and she begged me to come harvest as many as I wanted.  So I took my little basket down to her yard and filled it in 10 minutes. 

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What beautiful cherries!

A passerby on the sidewalk would not have been able to tell that I picked any cherries, that tree was so loaded!  I made a cobbler that night.  The next night Hubby, The Stinker, and I went back and filled the basket in 5 minutes.  The cherries sat in the fridge all week while I was busy doing other things, but finally this weekend I made a cherry pie.  It was delicious…and beautiful, if I do say so myself. 

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I spent most of my weekend making chokecherry butter, syrup, juice, and jelly.  I also used up a good part of our share from last week and made a couple of south-of-the-border-inspired dishes that were a huge hit with Hubby and his good friend.  I’ll share recipes for those later this week, but I thought I’d share the tomato sauce recipe, since I have practically thought of nothing else this summer.  It’s plain and simple, and I think that’s the appeal.  You can always jazz it up with a little something extra, but don’t overdo the basics.  That’s my thinking with this sauce, anyway.

Basic Tomato Sauce

12 large tomatoes

1 large bulb of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large Dutch oven filled with water to a boil.  Wash the tomatoes, then using a sharp knife, score an X in the bottom of each tomato.  Place the tomatoes in the boiling water and blanch for about 2-3 minutes, or until you see the skin begin to peel back on the bottom of the tomatoes. 

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The boiling water will make removing the skins a piece of cake!  I did have 2 tomatoes from my garden (top, center–they are brighter and have the fluting on them).

Remove tomatoes from water and dunk in ice water to cool.  As soon as the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel the skins off the tomatoes and chop the tomatoes into quarters.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook until garlic just begins to turn light brown.  Add the tomatoes and cook over medium low heat until the tomatoes begin to soften.  Use a wooden fork or the back of a slotted spoon to break the tomatoes into smaller pieces, leaving some chunks if you like.

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Continue cooking the tomato sauce over medium low heat for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  The sauce will thicken and look something like this: 

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Once it reaches the desired consistency, add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over pasta with some fresh basil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese!  Deliciousness! 

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