by Fabre Sanders
It has been a very interesting season for tomatoes – the plants this year seem to be more prolific than ever! We belong to an organic farm cooperative in Westborough, and this week we received 14 pounds of tomatoes in our share of the crop. The best part is that most of them were of heirloom varieties.
What is an heirloom tomato? The best definition that I could find is a cultivated plant that has been in existence since at least 1945, and has been handed down through the generations.
As a chef, what I know about heirloom tomatoes is that they taste great! Typically, they contain fewer seeds than a regular vine tomato, and have more flesh. You may have seem these tomatoes at a local farmer’s market.
They come in all colors of the rainbow. From the Rosso Bruno tomato which is a deep purple, to the Ida Gold, a vibrant yellow, to the Black Krim, a deep red and green, these tomatoes are amazing served simply with fresh mozzarella and basil, or on a Bruschetta. The depth of color is just beautiful.
This year, I made a wonderful Roasted Heirloom Tomato pasta sauce. It was quite simple, but time consuming. I loved it so much that I want to share the recipe.
Roasted Heirloom Tomato Sauce
4 lbs heirloom tomatoes, halved
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Minced fresh garlic
Optional: Red Wine
fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat a baking sheet with oil. Cut heirloom tomatoes in half, and liberally add Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place tomatoes cut-side down on the baking sheet and place in oven for approximately 1 ½ - 2 hours, watching carefully. When skin begins to blister and separate from the flesh of the tomato, the tomatoes can be removed from the oven.
Let tomatoes cool slightly, and then gently peel the skins away. Discard. Using a large stockpot or dutch oven, add all the flesh of the tomatoes plus any liquid on the baking sheet. Add minced fresh garlic to taste. Red wine may also be added if you desire. Simmer sauce until desired consistency is achieved. Stir well and frequently to break up large chunks of tomato. Add fresh minced herbs to taste.
Cook pasta according to package directions, and drain. Toss some of the Heirloom tomato sauce in with the pasta, and serve with freshly grated Parmesan. Delicious!