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:

Linguini with Fresh Tomato Sauce

I removed most of the seeds from eight medium tomatoes, about two pounds, before I cut the tomatoes into half-inch dice. I combined the tomatoes with two cloves of minced garlic, three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, one tablespoon of red wine vinegar, a quarter of a cup of minced flat-leaf parsley, a quarter of a cup of fresh basil, three thinly sliced scallions, a teaspoon of salt, half teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

When the linguine was cooked, I reserved half a cup of pasta water before I drained it. I stirred the pasta into the tomato mixture along with two tablespoons of the reserved pasta water. We topped the pasta with slivers of Parmesan cheese and enjoyed dinner along with the goldfinches tussling at the nearby thistle seed feeder.

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• 7 Responses to “Tomato Time – Linguini with Fresh Tomato Sauce”

  • What a wonderful pasta dish…So sorry for your friend that could not find his tomatoes, they are such a joy fresh from the garden :)

  • Oh, Carol! What a lovely post! I feel almost as if I were eating the tomatoes with you!

  • Drick says:

    oh Carol, such a great one – by early July, our tomatoes are long gone, too hot & humid down here / your quick recipe reminds me of what summer cooking is all about, talk about garden fresh / your last line got me: an enjoyable dinner contrasted against the mêlée of finches

  • Matthew says:

    What is the idea behind the vinegar?

    I made angel-hair pasta for the first time in ages last night. I typically like thicker pasta shapes, but there is something about angel-hair thats just delicious at soaking up flavours.

    M

  • Carol, you know I have never used pasta water in a dish, and always wondered about it use in recipes. Now I have my first example to refer back on for using pasta water. I love recycling, don’t you!

    Bon appetit!
    =:~)

    • Carol says:

      The salty, starchy water is a great resource. I heard about a restaurant in NYC that uses the same huge kettle of water all day to cook pasta and the real foodies use the pasta water as a major component for their own meal after the restaurant has closed.

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