Post #418 Freshest and Brightest Tomato Sauce Ever

September 23, 2015 at 11:30 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #418 Freshest and Brightest Tomato Sauce Ever

My mom passed away from cancer in June 0f ’91.  It wasn’t a very long battle, but at the beginning it was fiercely fought.  She and dad investigated a lot of adjunct treatments and one of those was the juice diet.  They purchased a top of the line juicer and proceeded to juice everything in site.  The theory was sound enough.  You juiced the whole vegetable or fruit, or piece of wood, and the juice came out spout having gone through some internal filters.  Those filters had to be cleaned after every use or they’d clog.  A simple tap to dislodge and a quick rinse, and the filter was ready for the next go round.  This juicer was a monster, weighed in at about twenty-five pounds.  Large and heavy, it was designed to stay on the counter or table and in constant use.  The leftover pulp could be used for cooking, or if you bypassed the filters, it could be left in the juice to be drunk.  It was a masticating juicer and the idea was that it would grind everything up and separate the solids from the liquid.

Mom used it once, then let it sit idle.  It was cumbersome, and she didn’t like the juice that came out of it.  It was too thick.  As she said, “The idea of celery juice is more appealing than the actuality of celery juice.”  Then they offered it to me and I gladly accepted and shipped it home.

Well, you know me, I read everything I could get my hands on about juicing and about this particular juicer.  I learned all its ins and outs; took it apart and put it back together with no extra parts left over, surprise; and I learned dozens of recipes for combining fruits and vegetables into tasty concoctions that would save wear and tear on our teeth and cause less stress on our stomach not having to breakdown cell walls to get nutrients.  At least, that was the claim.  Spurious, to say the least.  But I experimented and played and came up with some nice juices.  Sometimes I’d save the pulp and make muffins or breads, or paper, if I was juicing wood.  This monster could actually get juice out of wood.

2013 Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival | www.kitchenconfi

One evening, I stumbled across something when trying to make tomato juice so my ex could have a Bloody Mary.  She didn’t like just the juice, saying it had no body, so I put the filter bypass in and let all the seeds, pulp, and skin go through the juicer.  A thick watery mass came out and the flavor of the tomato shined.  I add the requisite ingredients (vodka) and she like it a lot.  But I was looking at the leftover and wondering what it would be like on pasta.  So, the next evening, I processed a few tomatoes, boiled up some pasta, added some dried herbs, heated the sauce, tossed it with the pasta, sprinkled on cheese and served it up.

It was spectacular!  It was the freshest, brightest pasta sauce we’d ever had.  The flavors of the tomatoes and herbs just bounced around the tongue.  Nothing was masked by anything else.  Each flavor stood on its own, distinct and identifiable, not in contrast but a perfect blending.   At that time, I didn’t know the tricks to helps sauce stick to pasta (I was still rinsing the pasta then) so it was really like eating a fresh tomato soup with pasta in it, but it was still very good.

We ate this for several weeks, but gradually tapered off as the novelty of the juicer waned, and the inconvenience of using it grew.  Eventually, I gave it away to someone who was far more into the juicing lifestyle than we were.  I went back to making my marinara sauce as usual, and over time forgot the brightest spaghetti sauce I’d ever made.

Last week, I was scrolling through my timeline on Facebook.  That’s a real chore that requires a certain dedication and a fairly large block of time.  I get most of my news from the internet now, so all of my news services are on my feed.  All my writer’s groups are on my feed.  All my friends are on my feed.  Most of my cooking input is on my feed.  If I don’t check my FB page at least every couple of hours, I may as well hang it up.  Some days, I only have time to check my alerts.  This day, I was scrolling fairly quickly through my timeline.  I tend to ignore every single video because I don’t always have time for a two minute investment.

One video made me stop.  I love the life hacks and cooking hacks that come my way.  Most are common sense; many show something I’ve been doing my whole life.  This one showed a way to prepare tomatoes that rocked me back in my chair, and it’s a swivel chair so it rocked me way back.  This guy made a full Italian meal of pasta and tomato sauce in under 15 minutes.  I watched the video and ran out to get what I needed.

I already had 98% of it.  I needed a box grater.  That was all.

box grater

Growing up, the only grater we had in the house was a box grater with four sides that had a shredder, a slicer, and two different mincers.  It was old, dented, and always looked vaguely unsavory, but it worked perfectly.  Now, of course, we have every mincer, slicer, grater, etc. in both manual and electronic.  Except a box grater.  So, I got it and the tray that came with it.  Then I stopped at the my favorite veggie stand cuz I did not have any large fresh tomatoes, oddly enough.

Here’s how this works.  Take a ripe tomato and cut it in half cross ways, not top to bottom.  Place a box grater in a large bowl and gently grate the flesh of the tomato into the bowl.  Be careful when you reach the skin, but when you do this gently, you’ll be left with only the skin in your hand and all the flesh and juice and seeds in the bowl.  Plan on one large ripe tomato per serving of pasta.  When the tomatoes are grated, push them through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl to remove the seeds.  I didn’t do this because we like the seeds.  You may not want to do this either.  Using a micro-plane, and mince one or two cloves of garlic into the tomato sauce.  Add a pinch of salt, and a tablespoon of olive oil for richness.  Add fresh or dried herbs of a kind you like.  I used fresh basil from my herb garden.  (New plants, no bugs.)  Then just add freshly boiled pasta directly to the sauce.  The heat from the pasta will “cook” the tomato sauce, of sorts, so it will be ready to eat immediately.  I topped our plates with parmesan cheese, more herbs, and served with toasted garlic bread.

It was yum, and mirrored the sauce from the juicer exactly.  And was way easier.  The entire meal was ready in under twenty minutes.



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