I wish it would cool down. A little bit. Just enough that I don’t have to sluice off after taking Luke for his noontime walk. Merely enough that we can swat mosquitoes while sitting out back at night, wishing for more Persiads. Simply a degree or two so it feels tolerable, that I stop doing the much-used human tea bag impression. As long as it is this hot I resolutely refuse to set all ten toes down in the kitchen for any food preparation that involves pots, pans or pilot lights. And luckily the young ‘uns have returned to their respective universities, so I am off the hook for a little while…
Farm stands are the best spots for considering the possibilities of all the jewel-like fruits and vegetables. They are infinitely preferable to the gelid air at the grocery store. Rising above the scent of hot grass, the aroma of freshly picked tomatoes hovers in the air, like a magic carpet, daring you to climb aboard. Eggplants have never looked quite so rich and fecund with possibility as they do outdoors, in their stunning pile of gleaming aubergine-ness. Look at those colors! Surely something can be prepared without adding heat to these regal squash! Have the beans ever looked more sprightly? You can admire your sweaty face in the gleaming green peppers. And who could ask for nicer zucchini?
This recipe for Eggplant Bacon is stretching my stringent (dare I say, rigid?) rules for the perfect summer meal without spending time in the kitchen – but I thought it was quite novel. And my little pescatarian might enjoy it the next time she swans through the front door.
I also love this Baba Ghanoush recipe. After the first glass of cheap (chilled) white wine it also becomes delightful challenge to roll over one’s tripping tongue. I still don’t have a food processor, though, so we’ll have to see how the blender works.
You can listen to Martha if you like, and I suppose it is advisable, most of the time. But here I beg to differ with her. I do not find it at all necessary to peel the tomatoes. Sometimes I don’t even seed the tomatoes. (I don’t have a kitchen prep staff, except for Luke, who is so proud to have discovered gravity in the kitchen, so I tend to streamline steps that seem fussy. At least MS doesn’t ask that I blanch the tomatoes. Heavens…) I find the combination of tomatoes, olive oil, basil and garlic heady enough that I can even be persuaded to boil a pot of (salted) water for the pasta.
My The Martha Stewart Cookbook falls open to this recipe on page 365 (also to Pommes Anna on page 350, which we will discuss later this fall, when we are interested in turning the oven on…). It is a hit here with all but The Tall One, who does not like chunks of tomato. Pity.
Spaghetti with Uncooked Tomato Sauce
2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 small onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
½ cup olive oil
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound spaghetti
½ cup freshly ground Parmesan cheese
In a large bowl, mix the chopped tomatoes with the onion, garlic, basil, oil and salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before serving. (I cover the bowl with Saran Wrap and walk away for a few hours. Luke needs to go for another walk.)
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain.
Toss the pasta with the sauce and serve immediately with Parmesan cheese.
I would also add a loaf of crusty bread, cheap red wine and a couple of candles. And you can rustle up some salad for the purists. Voilá! Romance on a hot summer night.
Our friends at Bon Appétit, who are always so darned clever, have 50 fabulous reasons to eat tomatoes, in case you need more ideas: https://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforums/blogs/badaily/2012/08/tomato-recipes-photos.html
You can find the Uncooked Tomato Sauce recipe in:
The Martha Stewart Cookbook
Collected Recipes for Every Day
By Martha Stewart
Clarkson Potter Publishers
“My greatest strength is common sense. I’m really a standard brand – like Campbell’s tomato soup or Baker’s chocolate.”