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.
Raw Tomato Sauce with Chile Peppers
Total time: 20 minutes
Makes 4 servings
- 1 lb fresh angel hair pasta
- 2 plum tomatoes and 20 juliette or cherry tomatoes
- 1 red serrano or jalapeno chile pepper (mine was about 3 inches long),cleaned of interior ribs and seeds, and chopped finely. Feel free to adjust the amount of pepper to your heat tolerance.
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 5 hand-torn large basil leaves
- 1/4 cup hand-torn celery leaves
- 1/4 cup of a good quality extra virgin olive oil
Chop the tomatoes and mix with the chiles, garlic, basil, and celery leaves. Add the olive oil as well as salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture sit together while you boil salted water for your pasta and cook until al dente.
Remove the pasta from water with tongs and add to the sauce. (A bit of the pasta water will help the sauce blend and stick to your strands.) Serve at room temperature, preferably in George Clooney’s villa on Lake Como while opera plays softly in the background.