Growing up my brother and I would scarf down a box of pasta smothered in Ragu sauce before or after a sports practice at least once a week. It was quick, easy and filling. Plus, we needed the carbs for energy.
My mom thought we were getting nutrient rich vegetables so she felt good about serving it. Back then we did not look at ingredient labels or know the tomato sauce manufacturers were using so much processed sugar to make up for the taste of dehydrated vegetables and inferior oils. Now we rarely buy the jars since it is so easy to make our own sauce or roast quartered tomatoes and toss them in pasta like this recipe from Giovanna Luca of Uncle Dom’s Italian Market.
Giovanna Luca has been making pasta and sauce since she was a child and shared how her ancestors would prepare a simple meal. The women would pick fresh tomatoes from the garden and slowly roast them with garlic cloves for hours in a pot over a fire. When it was close to the time for the men to return from the fields, they would toss the tomatoes and garlic in olive oil and crumble oregano leaves over the top. Then pour the sauce over freshly made pasta and finish with basil leaves and several pinches of salt probably from the Salt Road or Mediterranean sea. You can still find a similar dish in many tucked away restaurants throughout Italy.
Unfortunately, our hectic lives prevents us from spending hours in the kitchen to prepare a fabulous family style meal. Knowing this but understanding the importance of fresh ingredients and food since she grew up in Sicily, Giovanna Luca presented how to roast tomatoes and garlic at the high temperature of 400 degrees to cut the roasting time to 15 minutes. With this technique dinner, can be on the table in 30 minutes or less.
Last week I roasted Crystal Organic Farms tomatoes and garlic, let them cool, placed them in a Weck jar and covered them with olive oil. The oil adds flavor as well a preserves them for at least a week in the refrigerator. This allows me to get food on the table in about 10 minutes and everyone looks forward to dinner. My daughter had four helpings and still wanted more. I do not know where she puts it.
Since the tomatoes are incredibly ripe and juicy this summer, we have been making creamy tomato pies, caprese salad and light sandwiches topped with tomato confit. Crystal Organic Farms has cherry tomatoes as well as many heirloom varieties. Since their tomatoes are so fresh and sweet, we do not need to add any sugar to enhance the flavor or to balance the acidity. Make a trip to the farmer’s market this weekend to get some of the amazing produce this summer. Go early to get the best selection. The melons sell very quickly.
1) Preheat Oven- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Prepare tomatoes- Wash and cut tomatoes in half and remove the seeds. Cut into quarters. Strain juice for 10 minutes if you have time.
3) Roast- Cut a bulb of garlic in half. Place tomatoes and garlic in a dish or baking sheet. Roast until tender for 10 to 15 minutes. Spoon out the excess water in baking dish if you did not strain them first. Remove garlic skin. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of crumbled oregano leaves. Toss together.
4) Boil water for pasta. Add kosher or sea salt to the water. Add pasta to the water and stir until pasta is coated with water. Follow instructions on the package.
Note: Fresh pasta is cooked al dente in about 3 minutes. Many people use pots with a built in strainer which is convenient but not ideal for cooking pasta since pasta needs to move around in the boiling water or it becomes gummy. Always use a big pot and stir the pasta until it is fully saturated in salted water. Use a strainer to remove the excess water and place directly in a large bowl. Cold water is not necessary to cool the pasta down or stop the cooking process unless you are using gluten free that specifies using cold water.
5) Basil Chiffonade- Wash and pat dry about 10 large basil leaves. Place each leaf on top of the other in a stack. Now roll the leaves into a tight tube. Using a sharp knife cut parallel to the stem so you will have long strands of basil after you finish cutting them. This also keeps the basil looking green longer. Click here for more detailed instructions on how to chiffonade basil. Pictures are from VeganYUMYUM site.
6) Serve- Spoon the tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil over the pasta. Add several pinches of Back to Organic Lemon Twist or Margarita Himalayan Pink salt to taste. Add basil chiffonade over the tomatoes. Serve the pasta warm. Enjoy!
Why You Want to Eat This!
- Tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant Lycopene which studies have shown improves bone and heart health. People at risk of osteoporosis should eat foods rich in Lycopene. Orange and and Tangerine colored tomatoes may have more easily absorbed Lycopene than red tomatoes.
- Fresh tomatoes may lower cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides as well as prevent platelet cells from clotting. The tomatoes with the higher levels of antioxidants may be New Girl, Jet Star, Fantastic, and First Lady. read more
- Tomatoes are a night shade plant and may increase inflammation in the body so if you are sick or suffering from back, muscle, or joint pain, you may want to limit your intake of tomatoes.
- Basil has anti-inflammatory properties. ”The eugenol component of basil’s volatile oils has been the subject of extensive study, since this substance can block the activity of an enzyme in the body called cyclooxygenase (COX). Many non-steriodal over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS), including aspirin and ibuprofen, as well as the commonly used medicine acetaminophen, work by inhibiting this same enzyme.” Basil can also protect your DNA as well as fight bacteria growth. read more
- Garlic is a natural anti-inflammatory and helps boost the immune system.
- Oregano contains the essential oils thymol and carvacrol which inhibit bacterial growth. Oregano can help with staph infections and Giardia, an intestinal infection found in stagnant water. In fact, research shows oregano is more effective at curing Giardia than the most commonly prescribed drug.
Photos from TC Brodnax taken at the Morningside Farmer’s Market Chef Series