WAY BACK IN 2007 In the years I was digging my roots as a cook, I had the great fortune to move to Texas – nothing to do with Texas itself and everything to do with the fact that my mother's best friend from grade school lived all of two miles away. Phyllis and her husband tucked me under their culinary wings and on occasion, I'd spend a Sunday on a stool in their working gourmet kitchen, some times helping, mostly wide-eyed and soaking up the possibilities: I'd never heard of the stove-maker Viking, had never known a house with two ovens let alone a third dedicated as a warming oven, didn't know that pastry rolls out best on stone-cold marble.
So I have a whole collection of recipes bearing Phyllis' name. This is one. You'll see, it's not fancy food (though Phyllis would chide me for not blanching the tomatoes to remove the skins) but it is what I hope you think of as "classic Alanna", simple food prepared well.
The one requirement is really good tomatoes. If you're going to make tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes, at least a sauce this simple, the tomatoes must-must be perfect-perfect. That said, my notes say that when tomatoes aren't in season, Phyllis also makes tomato sauce from boxes of Pomi Tomatoes, a good choice when good tomatoes aren't available. I also have good luck with (albeit pricey) canned San Marzano tomatoes, watch for them at Trader Joe's, I used them to make Quick Tomato Sauce two years ago.
EVER SINCE, OVER THE YEARS This is simple, spare fare, such an easy, celebratory way to revel in summer tomatoes. Another summery recipe from Phyllis I remade just last month? Cold & Creamy Cantaloupe Soup. Dreamy good!
"[Phyllis'] tomatoes/basil sauce - just perfect!" ~ Barbara
"I am making this again today ... awesome recipe." ~ Barbara
PHYLLIS' FRESH TOMATO SAUCE
Time to table: 30 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large fresh garlic cloves, sliced thin
2 pounds very ripe fresh tomatoes, blanched and seeded first if desired, otherwise chopped in bite-size pieces
8 - 10 fresh basil leaves, washed, cut in slices
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup cream (Phyllis uses a whole cup, I don't think it needs so much)
For garnish, freshly grated Parmesan, optional (to my taste, "just tomato" is perfect)
For garnish, a few more leaves of fresh basil
In a large skillet, heat the oil on MEDIUM HIGH till shimmery. Reduce the heat to MEDIUM, add the garlic and let sizzle a bit, just until beginning to turn gold, watch carefully, you don't want the garlic to scorch. Add the tomatoes and basil, stir to coat with fat and distribute the garlic. Let cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, watching the heat so not to burn, til all the liquid is cooked off. Season to taste. Slowly stir in the cream, stirring to distribute. Let cook down a minute and warm completely through. Adjust seasoning.
Serve over pasta or fish. If desired, top with Parmesan and additional fresh basil.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
HOW TO BLANCH TOMATOES TO REMOVE THE SKINS If you are in Phyllis' camp about removing the tomato skins, blanch the tomatoes first. Here's how. First, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Wash the tomatoes and cut an X in the skin on the blossom end. (This is opposite the "stem end". Think about it, you'll know which end is which! The other one? It's called the blossom end!) A few at a time, drop the tomatoes into the boiling water, let them rest undisturbed for about 60 seconds, then remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon. When a tomato is cool enough to handle, use a knife to slip off the skin and discard.
KEY INGREDIENTS Don't skip the basil when making the sauce, it adds a dimension that is much missed if it's skipped.
MORE SERVING IDEAS Phyllis serves Fresh Tomato Sauce with pasta. It's also lovely as a creamy-tomato bed for a perfect poached egg or even a simple fried egg, oh yeah, with a runny yolk!
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MORE TOMATO SALADS: WORTHY OF GOOD SUMMER TOMATOES~ Never Take a Good Tomato for Granted: Twelve Favorite Tomato Recipes ~
~ Old Liz's Old-Fashioned Cucumber & Tomato Salad ~
~ Fattoush (Traditional Middle Eastern Salad) ~
~ Tomato Platter with Olives & Feta ~
~ more tomato recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Favorite Summer Salad Recipes ~
~ Panzanella ~
~ Fresh Corn & Tomato Salad ~
~ Greek Pasta Salad ~
~ more tomato recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
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