Falling in Love with Tomatoes
In the Meantime in Churchville Krissy and Mark have been spending almost every evening together cooking and drinking wine. Last weekend they taught each other to can tomatoes. The simple act of making something for the future hit Krissy hard and she sent this note to her sister Jane.
“The heat coming off the tomatoes about drove me crazy. His strong hands working to gently peel the tomatoes and his strong arms lifting the pots I wanted so badly for him to take me in his arms and hold me forever. I know Sis I am the one that told him I am only interested in being friends. That I don’t stay in one spot for long. But I feel it more and more each day this is my home I am staying in Churchville and I am in love. But now what do I do I want him to love me back?”
Krissy’s Famous Spaghetti Sauce with Home Canned Tomatoes (she calls it Naked Tomato Sauce)
2 quart jars of canned tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Small handful basil leaves, most left whole, a few slivered for garnish
1/4 cup olive oil
12 ounces (3/4 pound) dried spaghetti
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, or maybe two if nobody is looking
Add the canned tomatoes and salt to a large saucepan (you’ll be adding the pasta to this later, so err on the big side) and turn the heat to medium-high. There are several ways to break the tomatoes down (with your hands, chopping, an immersion blender that I don’t think Italian Grandmothers would approve of but don’t worry, they’re not in the kitchen with you anyway) but Krissy used a potato masher, as it gives you the maximum control over how chunky, smooth you want your sauce.
Once the sauce has begun to boil, turn your heat down to medium-low and gently simmer your tomatoes for 35 to 45 minutes, mashing them more if needed.
While the tomato sauce cooks, combine garlic, a few whole basil leaves, a pinch of red pepper flakes and 1/4 cup olive oil in a small saucepan. Heat them slowly, over the lowest heat so that they take a long time to come to a simmer. Once it does, immediately remove it from the heat and strain the oil into a small dish. You’ll need it shortly.
When the tomato sauce has been simmering for about 25 minutes, bring your tomato-blanching pot of water back to a boil with a healthy helping of salt. Once boiling rapidly, cook your spaghetti until it is al dente, i.e. it could use another minute of cooking time. Reserve a half-cup of pasta cooking water and drain the rest.
Once your sauce is cooked to the consistency you like, stir in the reserved olive oil and adjust seasonings to taste. Add drained spaghetti and half the reserved pasta water to the simmering tomato sauce and cook them together for another minute or two. Add remaining pasta water if needed to loosen the sauce. Stir in the butter, if using, and serve immediately with slivered basil for garnish. This sauce is so simple and good it needs no grated cheese.
Serve with Warm Baguette.
Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen.