Lets face it, summer is winding down. Even if I didn't want to admit it, just looking at my garden gave me a not so subtle clue that Fall is approaching. My tomatoes, which came in abundance earlier this year, now look as though they are ready to give up. All that is left, are several over-ripe ones. Our generous neighbor stopped by and gave us lots of vegetables including several more over-ripe tomatoes.
This has been a great season for tomatoes, which are one of my favorite vegetables, technically a fruit, (but that just doesn't seem right). This summer I've cooked tomatoes in all kinds of ways, and made one of my seasonal favorites, a simple tomato sandwich, just bread, mayo and a few huge slices of tomatoes! Delicious!
So what did I do with the stack of juicy, dripping, and some-what rotting stack of tomatoes? What else... make sauce! After carving away the bad parts, I diced them, skins, seeds and all (This IS a rustic sauce after all).
For some extra flavor, I reached into my freezer and found two frozen delicious Italian sausage from Giacomo's Italian Market, the best Italian sausage I've found so far in my town of Greensboro, NC, (It's not easy finding good, authentic Italian food here)!
The sauce was rich, acidic and bursting with the fresh flavor of fresh tomatoes. As a matter of fact I would have been perfectly content to eat it as a a soup!
End of Summer Rustic Tomato Sauce
4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
2 Italian Sausage links (2 pork chops can be substituted)
1/2 onion- minced
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tsp sugar
6 large ripe tomatoes
Tbsp Fresh basil and oregano, chopped
• Heat a medium saucepan at medium heat, add 2 Tbsp Olive oil.
• Add the Italian sausage, cook it on all sides, turning every few minutes. Cook until fully browned, around 8-10 minutes.
• Remove the sausage and cut it into bite-sized rounds, set aside.
• In the same (still hot) pan, add the other 2 Tbsp's of Olive Oil
• Stir in the Onion and garlic along with the Salt, pepper and Crushed red pepper
• Once the onions turn translucent (about a minute) add all of the chopped tomatoes
• Stir in the cut-up Italian sausage and sugar
• Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
• Once boiling reduce to simmer, and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Stirring occasionally
Serve over (gluten free rice) pasta, sprinkle with chopped Fresh basil and oregano, and Parmesan cheese. Personally I recommend a glass of a good red wine as well.
This morning I carried on a ritual that has been passed down in my family for (at least) three generations. Before I ate breakfast, or even made coffee I smashed some garlic and opened several cans of tomato paste. This is the SanGeorge Sunday tomato sauce ritual. According to my dad, his father made a big pot of sauce every Sunday and he learned how to make it by watching his father make it. I assume that this tradition was carried over from Italy when my great-grandfather came to the United States one hundred years ago.
This may be the last time I make sauce this winter. Sauce season coincides almost directly with football season, the two are linked in my mind, as is the phrase, "somebody stir the sauce!", repeated every 20 minutes throughout the 6-8 hour duration of cooking time. I remember when I was little my dad would start the sauce and the meatballs around 8am. He would bring the sauce to a simmer and let it cook while we went to church. When we returned home the house would be full of the rich aroma of tomatoes, tantalizing us. But, we would have to wait another three or four hours until the sauce "turned", or matured to have the full rich flavor that makes it so good. My dad would have two spoons on the stove next to the pot; one for stirring and one for tasting. When my father was engrossed in the Buffalo Bills game on the TV, I would often use the latter spoon to sneak a meatball, sometimes having to shove the whole (and very hot) thing in my mouth to avoid detection.
Sadly now my father can no longer eat the sauce that he loved to make. Being a survivor of throat cancer, with radiation and multiple surgeries, he hasn't been able to eat solid food for some time. Recently the doctors have told him that he is to have "nothing by mouth". All of his nutrition is fed through a tube in his stomach, mostly while he sleeps. So when I sometimes get frustrated about not being able to eat things because of gluten, I contrast it to my father who can't eat anything at all. So what if I can't eat semolina pasta, rice pasta isn't that bad. So what if I can't eat doughnuts or pizza, there are hundreds (or thousands) of foods and flavors that I can eat. It's times like this that I remember that life really is good without gluten!
This meatball's for you dad.
Oh, what? You want the recipe for the sauce? Sorry, but there are some things that even I have to keep secret! I will suggest a great Italian dish for a cold day; try my Chicken Cacciatore recipe, I made this last week and it's hard to go wrong with it.