As Spring nears, Winter's slow cooked comfort foods can start feeling a little heavy and old. Comforting and warming though they are, we start to yearn for something fresh and bright. A plate of pasta, quickly made and simply adorned with a light, fresh flavored tomato sauce is just the solution.
Fresh tomato sauce in the middle of winter seems doomed to failure as winter tomatoes are usually tasteless and heavy. The beauty of today's recipe is that it can be made with fresh, ripe tomatoes in the summer but is equally enjoyable made with canned tomatoes.
Canned tomatoes are a very good product. Picked at the peak of freshness and flavor they serve well in cooked dishes; this dish surprises us with how well they work in an uncooked dish.
Tomatoes offer massive health benefits. Besides healthy doses of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, tomatoes have been show to aid in the fight against heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. They are an essential element in the "Mediterranean Diet" which is being touted for its myriad of health benefits - and they taste good!
The fresh basil and parsley flavor the oil and vinegar and then the fragrance blooms when the warm pasta hit it. Don't forget, though, that herbs add so much besides flavor to a dish. Most of them are densely packed with vitamins and nutrients.
Parsley has the highest concentration of anti-oxidants of any plant, as well as vitamins A, C, K, B complex, fiber, and potassium. Basil also offer Vitamins A, C, E, K, niacin, and riboflavin. These are just some of the benefits of basil and parsley.
Quick Tomato Concasse Sauce for PastaIngredients
- 2 cups of fresh tomatoes in season, seeded, peeled and diced
OR 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 ½ tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp fresh chiffonade of basil (thin, ribbon like cuts)
- 2 tsp fresh chopped parsley
- 1 TBS olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: red pepper flakes, and/or minced garlic
- Drain the tomatoes of excess juice.
- Toss them with ¼ tsp of salt and let sit in a strainer for at least 15 minutes to allow excess juice to drain off.
- Toss with the fresh basil and parsley.
- Add a good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Let sit at room temperature for at least one hour and up to four hours. Season as desired with salt and pepper.
- Toss with freshly cooked, hot pasta.
If the tomatoes have been refrigerated or allowed to get very cold, they can be heated very briefly (less than one minute) before adding to the pasta. At normal room temperature, the heat of the pasta will be enough to gently warm the sauce and release the flavors and scent of the herbs.
The tomato mixture is also very good served on toasted bread. Toast a good quality sour dough, French bread, or county loaf on a hot grill or in the oven. Rub a cut clove of fresh garlic over the toasted surface and top with some of the tomato concasse.
Note: If your balsamic vinegar is very tart, add up to ½ tsp sugar to mellow the acid. Garlic or red pepper flakes can be added as desired.
This class is made possible through the generosity of Legacy Village Giant Eagle. Please patronize them and let them know if you enjoyed the class!