Tomato Time – Linguini with Fresh Tomato Sauce

August 18th, 2010 / comments 7

For many gardeners, Town Meeting is the reminder that it is time to plant tomato seeds. The tender seedlings must wait on windowsills to be transplanted until the threat of a late May frost has passed. And then, with a balance of sun and rain, a presence of pollinators and an absence of blight and hornworms, local tomatoes thrive and come to market at the end of July.

summer bird c egbert 5 in  Tomato Time   Linguini with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Last weekend, my friend Veronica gave us a basket of tomatoes from her garden, our first Vermont tomatoes of the season. After the tomato blight of last summer, local tomatoes are even more of a treat. An heirloom tomato, still warm from the sun, eaten out of hand with a pinch of salt is one of summer’s great pleasures. I used thin slices of white bread, a thick slather of mayo, two layers of tomatoes and lots of sea salt and freshly ground pepper to make a platter of tomato sandwiches. Longing for the flavor and scent of just picked tomatoes is a desire that never seems to fade.

When we lived in Singapore, our English neighbor, Philip, was on an endless quest for “a proper English tomato”. The tomatoes grown in Singapore were hard and pale orange with green patches. Although they looked like tomatoes, they didn’t have much flavor; the imported tomatoes, called airflown in Singapore, from more temperate regions were perfectly red, perfectly round and perfectly tasteless. Philip decided to grow tomatoes with seeds taken from a very expensive imported tomato. The seeds sprouted quickly and he soon had half a dozen seedlings. He tied each seedling to a stick and waited for tomatoes to appear. In three weeks, all of the seedlings had died but each of the sticks had rooted and was sprouting leaves. For the rest of his time at the university, he longed for tomatoes from England.

Fortunately, here in Vermont, during the late summer, I satisfy my tomato desire with trips to farm stands, markets and friends’ gardens. When Susan and Bob stopped by with tomatoes from their garden, I invited them to stay for dinner. I made fresh tomato sauce for pasta in the time it took for the water in the pasta pot to come to a boil. Here’s how I did it:

… read more

Tomato Ricotta Pasta from a Sicilian Kitchen

February 19th, 2010 / comments 5

This  post is out of order – I blame it on jet lag. After a long night of travel, we finally arrived in Siracusa. sir courtyard 01  Tomato Ricotta Pasta from a Sicilian KitchenWe took a nap only to wake up and sleep for ten hours. The following morning, we crawled out of bed into the welcoming sunshine. Charles unpacked suitcases while I checked out my Sicilian kitchen. I found a small refrigerator, a cook-top with three burners, a tiny sink and a window with a view of the blue-green Mediterranean.

There was plenty of space in the nearly empty drawers for my arsenal of can’t-cook-without-it tools I had packed. My knives, the immersion blender that also functions as a mini food processor, the coarse and fine micro planes, a scale, measuring spoons and cups, and an instant read digital thermometer made my Sicilian kitchen seem a bit more like the one I left behind in Vermont. Even with these additions, the kitchen was not as well equipped as I had hoped so we had to set out in search of other kitchen essentials including a small toaster oven.

Life in Sicily is full of serendipity and detours. Our first detour was a stop at the Caffe Minerva for a macchiato and a ricotta filled pastry. Delizioso! Our second detour involved the open-air market. It was already noon, we had slept until ten, and the vendors would be gone long before we got back from our search for the super mercato. We needed food and since all of the fresh food we eat will be from local vendors, I had to shop for food before I shopped for the tools that I would need. The vendors’ stalls line both sides of the street for two blocks along Via Benedictine. My stomach was still on Vermont time, 5 am, so I was drawn to the fruit rather than to the squid and cuttlefish.

madarine 01 Tomato Ricotta Pasta from a Sicilian Kitchen

I filled a canvas shopping bag with blood oranges,  green skinned mandarines, one very large, lumpy skinned lemon, a pair of tomatoes shaped like deeply fluted pumpkins, garlic, a head of fennel and a container of olives. At the last stall, I bought a roasted red pepper from a vendor who had a small charcoal grill. He wrapped the still warm pepper in a bit of foil, and after I had paid him thirty Euro cents for it, he took the last onion from his grill, wrapped it and tucked it into my bag with a smile. After sampling the fresh mozzarella and buying a liter of fresh ricotta we were ready to go in search of the super mercato.

The third detour of the day occurred when Charles reminded me that since we didn’t have a car and we had to carrying everything we bought, we should take the food to our apartment before we tried to find the super mercato.

Our shopping bags emptied, we boarded the free public bus and confidently set off. An hour later, with a few missteps along the way and the help of three girls riding on the bus we arrived at the SUPER super mercato. It was farther than we expected and many times larger than I had imagined. It had everything I needed – staples including dried pasta, salt and pepper, olive oil, tomato paste, butter, honey and even a toaster oven!
Olive Nere Tomato Ricotta Pasta from a Sicilian KitchenIt was raining and we were tired when we got back to our apartment. When I turned on the kitchen light and saw the olives and tomatoes on the counter, I knew that I had everything I needed to make crostini and pasta for our first meal from my Sicilian kitchen. Here’s how I did it: … read more

A Perfect Pairing for Pasta and Life

October 5th, 2009 / Comments 0

My son Matthew has been a foodie since his first restaurant meal.  It was a Thai restaurant and he was about a year old, so it is no surprise that on September 21 he and a fellow foodie, Alison, were married in Siracusa, Sicily.

ceiling at Borgia del casale A Perfect Pairing for Pasta and Life

They were married in the Borgia del Casale, on the Piazza Duomo, in Ortigia and guests were given a cookbook filled with their favorite recipes. This fresco is on the ceiling of the room were dinner was served.

Here is a sample page.  … read more

Sesame Noodles with Grilled Asparagus

August 6th, 2009 / comments 3

Tonight we are having dinner with friends and I’m taking sesame noodles with grilled asparagus. I love pot luck meals – our friends are great cooks with varied styles so dinner will be wonderful and we will have shared the work and the fun.

sesame+noodles+01 Sesame Noodles with Grilled Asparagus
This salad is one of my favorites because it is easy to put together and travels well. Here’s how I make it: … read more

Pasta with Creamy Ramp Sauce & Spring Salad

May 23rd, 2009 / Comments 0

I woke to the sound of rain. No market today, I thought.

ramps+and+nasturium+01 Pasta with Creamy Ramp Sauce & Spring Salad

May Market – Ramp, Seedlings and Nasturtium

By eleven the rain had stopped and there was a bit of sun. There would be a market and not just for the die hard u call this rain?< farmers.

The market was very busy, shoppers eating Umpleby’s meat pies, baskets of nasturtium in full bloom – begun by Tim and Jan Taylor of Crossroad Farm when the ground was covered with snow, vegetable seedlings ready to plant – I got one delicata squash and four flat leaf parsley seedlings for my garden from Suzanne Long of Luna Bleu Farm, and then got a bunch of ramps (also known as wild leeks), a green zebra tomato plant and the first hug of the season from Jennifer Megyesi of Fat Rooster Farm.

Jen suggested that pasta with ramps and morel mushrooms would be a good choice for dinner.  Here’s how I made it. … read more

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