Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce | THE NIBBLE Blog - Adventures In The World Of Fine Food TIP OF THE DAY: Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce – THE NIBBLE Blog – Adventures In The World Of Fine Food
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TIP OF THE DAY: Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce

October is National Pasta Month, and we’ll be sharing different takes on pasta. We start with tomato sauce.

Some people use fresh summer tomatoes to make their sauce, freezing batches to last through the year. Others used canned tomatoes year-round. Less often, cherry tomatoes are employed.

For us, since lush summer tomatoes have drifted into memory until next year, cherry tomatoes are the go-to for homemade sauce.

While cherry tomatoes can be puréed into a conventional smooth sauce, first up is a version that roasts the cherry tomatoes and uses them whole, rather than cooking them on the stove top and pureeing in a conventional sauce.

Essentially, your sauce is seasoned whole roasted cherry tomatoes in olive oil; and beyond pasta, it can accompany rice and grains, polenta, eggs, grilled cheese, burgers and sandwiches, even savory waffles.

Since the cherry tomatoes keep their shape, this is especially beautiful when made with mixed-color heirloom cherry tomatoes, or a combination of red and gold.

   
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Colorful cherry tomatoes are a beautiful accent to beige pasta. Photo courtesy Delfina Restaurant | San Francisco.

 
You can simply sauté cherry tomatoes in olive oil with seasonings. Or, here are two recipes that impart a bit more complexity.

RECIPE: ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO SAUCE

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes, washed and patted dry
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Optional: chopped or sliced, pitted olives (2 tablespoons); drained capers (1 tablespoon); lemon zest (1 tablespoon); minced, seeded jalapeño (1-2 tablespoons) or crushed red pepper (1/2-1 tablespoon)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Place the tomatoes in a nonreactive* 9-by-13-inch baking dish and sprinkle with the garlic. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, thyme, brown sugar, salt and optional ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle over the tomatoes.

    2. BAKE for about 1 hour, until the tomatoes are softened and caramelized. Serve warm or at room temperature.
     
    *Reactive vs. Non-Reactive Cookware: Aluminum, cast iron and copper are popular for cookware because of their superior heat-conducting properties. However, these metals can react with acids in a recipe (citrus, tomato, vinegar, etc.), imparting a metallic taste and discoloration of light-colored foods. This is also true with mixing bowls and utensils. Non-reactive materials include enameled metal, glass, plastic and stainless steel.

     

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    Here, 1 pint of the cherry tomatoes have been quartered instead of pulsed, for a chunky sauce. Photo courtesy McCormick.
     

    RECIPE: CHUNKY CHERRY TOMATO SAUCE

    In this recipe, the tomatoes are pulsed in the food processor so do not maintain their shape, as in the recipe above. The reason to use them is because of superior flavor in the off season, and/or to take advantage of good prices.

    Ingredients For 4 Cups

  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, large dice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 pints cherry tomatoes, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: chopped or sliced, pitted olives (2 tablespoons); drained capers (1 tablespoon); lemon zest (1 tablespoon); minced, seeded jalapeño (1-2 tablespoons) or crushed red pepper (1/2-1 tablespoon)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE the garlic in a food processor. Add the onion and pulse 3-4 times, until finely chopped.

    2. HEAT the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. When hot, reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 5 minutes.

    3. CLEAN the food processor bowl, add 1 pint of the cherry tomatoes and pulse 3-4 times, until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat to process the remaining 2 pints of tomatoes.

    4. ADD the chopped tomatoes to the skillet. Simmer, stirring frequently, until they turn into sauce (about 15-20 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste.

      




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