Farmers Market Finds: Raw Tomato Sauce with Chile Peppers

Danielle Oteri

by Danielle Oteri on August 27, 2010

Tomato sauce made from chopped raw tomatoes, crushed garlic, olive oil, and torn basil leaves is simply the easiest and most elegant dish for a late summer evening. When tomatoes and basil are in season, you almost owe it to them to prepare a dish that lets their freshness shine.

Truly, this is something that you can only enjoy in these parts for two to three weeks of the entire year. I’ve done this sauce with beefsteak tomatoes, plums and heirlooms. Surprisingly, heirlooms are too sour for the sauce, beefsteaks too, um…beefy, but plum and cherry tomatoes are just perfect. I just kissed the tips of my fingers.

That said, this is something I’ve made at least a dozen times and as I contemplated what to do with the nearly thirty tomatoes I received with this week’s CSA delivery, I decided to try something new. I wanted to push the sauce beyond mild and sweet and instead make it bold and hot. The answer was right under my nose…

Yes! Chile peppers also arrived fresh from the farm this week and became the perfect addition. These were relatively high on the heat scale and it’s smart to wear a pair of latex gloves when cleaning any hot pepper. Only having yellow rubber scrubbing gloves, I instead rubbed a little olive oil on my hands, which was also a reminder and good deterrent not to touch my face. Make sure you wash your hands well afterward.

Celery leaves were a last minute addition. I’ve seen them included in raw tomato sauce in Italy (where they love their bitter greens) but I’ve never before tried them. Fortunately for me, I also received celery from the farm and I was able to “Ask Casey” how I could best store it for a few days until my tomatoes were fully ripe. (Organic celery often turns into an inedible rubbery mess within 24 hours.) “Mummify your celery with aluminum foil, it stays fresh for WEEKS. Months, possibly,” she replied. Brilliant, huh? I never would have known.

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