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
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…