Monday, August 23, 2010

CSA 18 - Tomato Sauce

Sometimes when I cook I think about how cooking came to be.  Humans started off as foragers eating what they found, as they found it.  Then with tools and fire basic cooking was brought into the mix.  But recipes, putting certain food combinations together, determining how long to cook things for, all those details, how did they come about?

I cooked for myself such a basic, classic dish the other day.  I was tired, uninspired and had a fridge full of tomatoes.  Tomatoes are the zucchini of August; there are just too darn many.  But I also had onion, pepper and garlic and I always have a few boxes of pasta on hand, so there we go, dinner.

Pictured are almost all the ingredients.  Missing from the photo are only the olive oil, butter and salt… and the basil because I add the basil at the last minute so I forgot to cut it off the plant in time for the picture.

Really this isn’t even a recipe.  It’s just so basic.  But don’t the simplicity fool you, it was delicate and complex and fresh and tasty. It’s the kind of sauce that as you make it, and eat it, you start to understand the history of cooking, of how and why.  I took a bunch of seasonal vegetables that have been seasonal for a few weeks now so I’m bored of their individual flavors, chucked them in a pot together and voila, a new flavor.  Surely this is how and why cooking came about.  As a way to not only stretch food and spread nutrients amongst the tribe – if you mix it all together everyone gets some of everything – but because it makes foods you are bored with fresh and new again.  It’s the kind of sauce that probably would taste just as good had it been cooked in a clay pot over a campfire as it did cooked in my dutch oven over a stove.

Tomato Sauce
2 large tomatoes, diced
Handful of grape tomatoes, quartered
1 bell pepper, diced
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
Olive oil
Fresh basil

Melt the butter in the oil and add the onion.  Cook for a few minutes until soft, and add the pepper.  Cook about 2 minutes and add the garlic.  Cook about 1 minute and add the tomato.  Season with salt.  Simmer for as long as it takes to boil a pot of water and cook pasta.  In the last 2 or 3 minutes of cooking, add the fresh basil, roughly chopped.
Serve over pasta, with fresh grated cheese.

Simple and perfect.


  1. and you can do it again this week--what with 6 large tomatoes, and 4 yellow peppers, some cherry tomatoes, and flat parsley--you once again have the makings of a fresh red sauce.

    some chard--both red and yellow in one bunch, lettuce and beets round out the selection

  2. I am inspired! So simple and fresh, I'm going to try this this week. Looks delicious.

  3. @Megan - it was good and my recipe there made two servings

    @Mom - Chard and tomato calls for a slightly different recipe I have in mind...