buddha and bradley

July 27th, 2010 · 24 Comments

 buddha contemplating the magnificence of this bradley tomato. no suffering here…

one of the pluses about living in the south in the summer is that i get tomatoes before all the other yankees do. by june we begin seeing a few beauties at the farmers market and by july, well it’s bounty season. (and yes, i’m well aware that there will be times when this very fact will give me little to no consolation, but right now i’m pretty happy about it.)

i’ve not been home much over the last months but now that i’m here my shopping is done exclusively at the farmers market with hardly a trip anywhere else to buy anything foodlike. i live mostly off of eggs, berries, melons, zucchini, corn, greens, tomatoes, some grass fed beef and pastured chickens and this one particular whole grain seedy bread that i’ve grown to love. between us, i’m trying to lay low on the pork right now out of the desperate need to fit back into my clothes AGAIN.

oh but how i digress… the tomatoes. they are delectable. nearly magical. sprinkled just barely with just some maldon salt, and i am entranced. add a rub of garlic to some toasted bread, a hit of olive oil and some basil and it’s dinner. some buffalo mozzarella and it’s pure decadence. then put all of that on a bowl of pasta and it could fall into ‘my last supper’ category.

these salad tomatoes were grown by delvin farms and really, they’re more like candy than anything else. i keep them in this bowl and i just pop a few in my mouth whenever i go by, too well aware that soon this luxury will be behind me.

a few weeks ago in preparation for a dinner with some friends, the tomatoes were scored, blanched, shocked and peeled – about 4 lbs of these little gems – and then i seeded them and went on to make my favorite marinara of all time. we served the dish with some beautiful swordfish that was cooked to perfection with a warm bagna cauda of sorts served on top. but alas, there were no photos taken… and for this i am sad because it was quite a lovely dinner.

so dear readers, allow me to give you this repeat recipe from nearly a year ago. it’s just that good.

tomato and basil spaghetti
by scott conant of scarpetta

about 20 ripe plum tomatoes (ours were quite small so we doubled the amount)
about 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to finish the dish
a pinch of crushed red pepper
kosher salt
black pepper, freshly ground
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 ounce parmigiano, freshly grated (about 1/2 cup)
about 7 fresh basil leaves, well washed and dried, stacked and rolled into a cylinder and cut thinly crosswise into a chiffonade
1 pound spaghetti, either high-quality dry or homemade

to peel the tomatoes: bring a large pot of water to a boil. have a large bowl of ice water nearby. cut a small x on the bottom of each tomato. ease about five tomatoes in the pot and cook, let boil for about 15 seconds, and then promptly move them to the waiting ice water. (do this with the remaining tomatoes.) pull off the skin with the tip of a paring knife. if the skin sticks, try a vegetable peeler using a gentle sawing motion. cut the tomatoes in half and use your finger to flick out the seeds.

to cook the tomatoes: In a wide pan, heat the 1/3 cup of olive oil over medium-high heat until quite hot. add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and season lightly with the salt and pepper. (i always start with a light hand with the salt and pepper because as the tomatoes reduce, the salt will become concentrated.) Let the tomatoes cook for a few minutes to soften. then, using a potato masher, chop the tomatoes finely. cook the tomatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened. (you can make the sauce, which yields about 3 cups, ahead of time. refrigerate it for up to 2 days or freeze it for longer storage.)

to serve: bring a large pot of amply salted water to a boil. cook the spaghetti until just shy of al dente. reserve a little of the pasta cooking water. add the pasta to the sauce and cook over medium-high heat, gently tossing the pasta and the sauce together with a couple of wooden spoons and a lot of exaggerated movement (you can even shake the pan) until the pasta is just tender and the sauce, if any oil had separated from it, now looks cohesive. (if the sauce seems too thick, add a little pasta cooking liquid to adjust it.) take the pan off of the heat and toss the butter, basil, and cheese with the pasta in the same manner (the pasta should take on an orange hue) and serve immediately.


and yes. there is no garlic, there is no black pepper. just let it be, people.

just. let. it. be…


Tags: tomatoes

24 responses so far ↓

  • 1 CeeElCee // Jul 27, 2010 at 9:46 am

    It’s what’s for dinner!

    Glad to see you dropping anchor in our time zone for awhile. Other than the rediculous heat, you chose a great time to come back. Hope to see you soon.

  • 2 CeeElCee // Jul 27, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Err…ridiculous. That’s why I now have a copy editor at Bites.

  • 3 John // Jul 27, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Hey, so there you are! I’ve been waiting for you to post! No mention of the new guy. Is it over? Ha. Just kidding.

    Like I said, I live in California and I’m in the food industry. If you email me back I have a question for you regarding a business idea having to do with your blog.

    Enjoy those tomatoes!

  • 4 Choosy Beggar Tina // Jul 27, 2010 at 11:41 am

    The simplicity of a gently cooked fresh tomato and basil sauce is absolutely where it’s at during the summer. In central Ontario are growing season is just now starting to get really underway, but I had my first tomato harvest yesterday and I’m still feeling smug. Not enough for pasta, but enough for me to eat before anyone else got home….

  • 5 Amy (Minimally Invasive) // Jul 27, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Mmmmm. One of the first dishes I make during tomato season is essentially this, minus a cooked sauce. But I’ll go the extra mile to make your recipe, and soon, I hope. Still found only cherry tomatoes at the market last week.

    We’re back to more seasonal temperatures now; when are you returning?

  • 6 Robert // Jul 27, 2010 at 1:37 pm


    Thems is some purty ‘maters. Call it coincidence if you will, but basil marinara is staged in our fridge for tonight. Actually, it was for last night but the twins decided to come, no time for dinner. Thanks for your spin on where this should be going…..

  • 7 The real Bradly // Jul 27, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    When I saw the title, I assumed this would be about me (body very similar to Buddah’s.) Either way, cool!

  • 8 The real Bradley // Jul 27, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    oops…’meant to say, thanks for getting back on the posting horse, Claudia.

  • 9 Louise // Jul 27, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    I have never commented before but your blog is one of my favorites and it’s good to see you back and writing. And oh those tomatoes!!!

  • 10 Jill S. // Jul 28, 2010 at 5:07 am

    I love a good marinara and this one is so different from mine. i will try it soon. Thanks.

  • 11 jim voorhies // Jul 28, 2010 at 7:20 am

    The summer is all about the home- or local farm-grown tomatoes. Nothing compares with them, does it?

  • 12 Becky and the Beanstock // Jul 28, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Huh. We’re both back today to the blogosphere after too much silence. So nice to have a post of yours to read. So not nice of you to tease us with the swordfish dinner and then not share, but it’s forgiven. We’re chin-deep in tomatoes too right now — will be making (canning) marinara this weekend.

  • 13 michealle // Jul 28, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    You keep cooking and writing and I’ll keep eating and reading. Glad there’s no fretting!

  • 14 Jose Canseco // Jul 28, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Do you hate the shift key?

  • 15 claudia // Jul 28, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    jose, it would appear that way now, wouldn’t it? but you see, i am not capable of hating a shift key…

  • 16 Gina in DC // Jul 29, 2010 at 6:49 am

    I want to hear more about the swordfish too. I never seem to get it right. Any insight?

  • 17 claudia // Jul 29, 2010 at 9:13 am

    i believe that the secret to great swordfish is to use thick fillets, do not overcook and then let them rest and finish cooking off the heat – as you would do with a good steak.

  • 18 Franklin Eats // Jul 29, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Love the Buddha and tomato pic!

  • 19 Emily Walters // Jul 30, 2010 at 8:37 am

    I ate this meal, it was divine. Words can’t do it justice, it was the essence of summer. I can’t believe she took the time to peel all those tomatoes but the resulting by product, a tomato water-basil gin shooter, was well worth her effort.

  • 20 claudia // Jul 30, 2010 at 8:48 am

    em – michael did the heavy lifting. he peeled them all in the amount of time it’d have taken me to do 10. and yes, the mini cocktails were sublime, no doubt…

  • 21 Jeff // Jul 30, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    I’ve been canning like crazy but I must say that these beautiful farmers market tomatoes are not cheap! Thankfully they are worth it though.

  • 22 nancy at good food matters // Jul 30, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    we gladly suffer summer heat, for the best of summer, these tomatoes…..

  • 23 Bob // Jul 30, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Nice one, Claudia. I think that’s a fine way to do a marinara.

  • 24 charlie in nashville // Jul 30, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    If I buy the tomatoes will you cook me this dinner?

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