[38] Butter and Tomato Sauce

Cover of The Complete Book of Italian Cooking, edited by Anne Hildyard

Confession time: I picked this recipe after the tomatoes were already peeled and seeded.

I had been trying to find a recipe for a tomato sauce that used fresh tomatoes, preferably one that could easily be frozen or canned. Mostly, though, I’d been trying via a new website I’m a member of called “Eat Your Books”:http://www.eatyourbooks.com/ and not having any real luck.

Eat Your Books is pretty awesome in a lot of ways, but most of my cookbooks are not yet indexed on the site. So when I do a search, I end up with a lot of suggestions for recipes out of the two Bittman books I have. Of course, I love my two Bittman books, but I already look to them fairly often if I don’t know what to do. And they didn’t have anything that sounded like they used fresh tomatoes.

I turned to another place I frequent on the internet, and was going to wing it from there. I peeled the tomatoes and seeded them, and then moped. I wanted a challenge recipe out of this!

Luckily, I spotted this cookbook on the shelf and figured I’d give it a quick look. Turns out, it has TWO fresh tomato sauce recipes. I made the one that called for a lot of butter.


h2. Ingredients

1.5 lbs ripe, peeled beefsteak tomatoes (We used whatever the farmers were selling, but they were big tomatoes.)
6 tbsp unsalted butter

6 shallots, peeled & finely chopped (Our shallots are huge, so we used three.)

3 tbsp fresh basil leaves

Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

h2. Instructions

Seed and dice the tomatoes. Then melt the butter in a large pan and saute the shallots until they are softened, but not browned. Add the tomatoes and continue to gently cook until the tomatoes have begun to break down, about 5 – 8 minutes. At this point, stir in the basil leaves and salt and pepper.

Pour over a pound of prepared pasta and garnish with more basil. Pass around delicious pasta-topping cheese, if desired.

h2. Cooking and Consumption Notes

h3. Cooking

This was a totally simple recipe, and for that I was very grateful. The most challenging part of this recipe was peeling and seeding the tomatoes. I don’t own a food mill, so I did it all by hand. For those who don’t know, peeling tomatoes is as easy as folks claim peeling peaches is, and is done basically the same way. Boil a goodly amount of water, put your tomatoes in the boiling water for about 30 seconds (turn the tomato as needed to make sure all the skin gets some boiling exposure), pull them out, plunge them in cold water, then nick the skin with a knife or cut an “X” in the bottom of the tomato and peel the skin right off. Even the few spots on my tomatoes that were underripe peeled easily.

I hope the peach gods are listening to that, and making notes for improvements upon their subjects.

Seeding is less easy, but still pretty simple. Cut your tomatoes in halves or quarters, then use a finger to scoop out all that seed-jelly in the middle. You can also squeeze your tomatoes by hand to good effect, but don’t wear white if you use that method. Tiny red splatters all over the place.

The rest is pretty self-explanatory. I found the tomatoes needed a bit more than 8 minutes to breakdown, but it was fine.

h3. Consumption

Well, this was mostly for the freezer, so I’ll have to revisit it. And possibly add salt. The bite or so I had was quite tasty, but needed a touch more salt. Also, it tasted a bit too much like fresh tomatoes for my taste. I know, I know, I went looking for a book that called for fresh tomatoes, but that’s because it’s what I had on hand.

Bill hasn’t tasted it yet, and I need to figure out photos (there are some). I will edit and update when those things happen.

ETA: Well, we actually sat down and ate this for dinner two days later, and MAN it was good. The fresh tomato flavor mellowed out a bit, but didn’t disappear. The butter flavor became a bit more pronounced, and played amazingly well with the shallots. We had it over whole wheat linguine, which may not have been the best choice for the pasta (a rotini or some other kind of ridged pasta might have been nice to trap the thin sauce), but it’s what we had. Amazingly, the whole wheat flavor played very well with this light sauce. It’s like they all were good friends.