23 August, 2010

Drowning in tomatoes

It's that time of year again -- Tomato Overload.  You can't give them away because everyone else is suffering from the same problem.  Even the vendors at the Farmers' Market are sneaking free ones into your bag.  I don't care how beautiful they are, too many are too many.  Unless, of course, you like Puttanesca sauce.  And I love it.

There are several theories on how this sauce originated, but its name -- which translates as "whore's sauce" -- suggests it was a favourite of "working girls" who could throw all the ingredients in the pot, let it simmer while they plied their wares, and then sit down to a delicious meal.

No matter how it came about, it's delicious.  And it freezes beautifully, so now's the time to make a couple of batches and stash them in the freezer to enjoy when the supermarket has nothing but cardboard-tasting wannabes.

Try it in January, with a big green salad and a glass of red wine.  You'll thank me!

Puttanesca Sauce

4 Tbsp EVOO
2 cloves garlic, shaved on a Microplane (or finely chopped
1 ½ fresh red chilies,or Jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped (add more or less to your taste)
2-3 Tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
3 oz flat anchovies, drained and roughly chopped (1 can)
3 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
3 Tbsp capers, drained (preferably small ones)
3 lbs tomatoes, skinned, mostly seeded, and chopped
additional basil and Parmesan cheese for serving

  1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic, chilies,anchovies, and basil and cook briefly, stirring, until the garlic turns golden . No not allow to burn.  Move the mixture to one side of the pot, add the tomato paste and allow to caramelize for a couple of minutes.  Mix all together.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and a little pepper. NO SALT. Reduce heat to low, and allow mixture to simmer very gently, uncovered, for 45 to 60 minutes until it reduces and thickens.
  3. Serve over linguine or your favourite pasta with plenty of fresh. chopped basil and additional grated cheese.
A word to the wise - if you've never worked with hot peppers, the heat is in the seeds and the ribs, so remove them if you don't like it too spicy.  And DON"T rub your eyes after working with peppers -- Capisain is the chemical that makes them hot, and it will also burn your eyes.

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