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The Sailaway Gourmet

August 27, 2020

Here we are in September still dealing with the pandemic. It’s amazing that it has gone on so long. But we cope. And eat.
Last year my Dad decided to have a contest and gave each of my two siblings, myself and 2 nephews a baby tomato plant. The contest was to see who could grow the biggest plant with the most tomatoes. Apparently I was the only one who took it seriously. The nephews and both my sister and brother left theirs on their patios and forgot about them. Having never attempted to grow food of any kind, I pampered and nursed my little baby into a healthy, productive, beautiful crop of tomatoes. Naturally I won…by default I guess since there really wasn’t any competition. Oh well.
All summer
and early fall, tomatoes are abundant here in the Northeast. According to several articles about tomatoes, it seems they have become the favorite crop for home growers. And I found that the reason mine was so successful was that it was constantly in the sun as tomatoes need lots of sunlight. There are many guidelines for growing the fruit and maybe if I choose to grow another one, I might follow them. I winged it and was lucky. But the crop I got tasted very good.
I like to make different tomato sauces for pastas or zucchini noodles. The quick kind, not a sauce that takes hours to simmer. I use mostly Roma’s though there are many varieties to choose from. When shopping, look for nice ripe tomatoes – the best are found at your local farmers markets!
Following are some of my favorite sauces. They have very similar ingredients but totally distinctive flavors. Enjoy.

 

Tomato-Ricotta Sauce
3/4 lb. of fresh, ripe tomatoes, seeded and
coarsely diced
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 cup of ricotta cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter at room
temperature
1/4 cup of fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1/2 tsp. of salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup of a good Italian seasoning
1 lb. of your favorite pasta or zucchini noodles

Combine the tomatoes, garlic, ricotta, butter, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a large pasta serving bowl. You can either set it aside to come to room temperature or place the bowl (make sure it’s heatproof) over the pasta pot to warm the ingredients and melt the butter while boiling the water for the pasta.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until cooked to your liking. If using zucchini noodles, just blanch quickly in the boiling water. Drain pasta or zucchini well and immediately add to the sauce in your pasta bowl and toss. Sprinkle with the Italian seasoning and toss. Serve at once with the extra Parmesan and some fresh ground pepper. Serves 4 to 6 people.

Tomato Sauce with Clams  (This is very similar to the above recipe but using clams instead of Ricotta)
1/4 cup of unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 of a pound of fresh, ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely diced
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
3 cans (6-1/2oz) of chopped clams, drained but reserving 2 Tb. of the juice (use fresh clams if you have them)
1/4 tsp. of crushed red pepper
3/4 tsp. of salt or to taste
1/4 cup of fresh grated Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves, cut into strips
Freshly ground pepper
8 oz. of linguine

Combine the butter, tomatoes, garlic, clams, clam juice, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper and Romano cheese in a pasta serving bowl. As above, you can either set it aside to come to room temperature or place the bowl (make sure it’s heatproof) over the pasta pot to warm the ingredients and melt the butter while boiling the water for the pasta.
Cook the linguine in a large pot of boiling salted water until cooked to your liking. Drain well and immediately add to the sauce in your pasta bowl and toss. Sprinkle with the chopped basil and toss. Serve at once with the extra Romano and some fresh ground pepper. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

A Very Simple Tomato Sauce with Lemon Zest
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 lb. of fresh, ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely diced
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 tsp. of salt or to taste
Freshly ground pepper
3 Tb. of your favorite fruity olive oil
1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese, plus extra for serving
8 oz. of medium pasta shells or fusilli

Combine the garlic, tomatoes, lemon zest, salt, pepper, olive oil and feta cheese in a pasta serving bowl. Set aside to come to room temperature or until flavors mingle.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until cooked to your liking. Drain well and immediately add to the sauce in your pasta bowl and toss. Serve at once with the extra feta cheese and freshly ground pepper. Makes 2 to 4 servings.        


 

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