Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Recipe: Italian Countryside Raw Tomato Pasta Sauce and a Tomato Growing Report


This simple and flavorful fresh tomato pasta sauce with basil, capers, and olives lets you escape to the Italian countryside for an end of tomato season celebration (recipe here).

Autumn already? Yes, please. The leaves have started to turn here in Missouri, and the oppressive heat and energy-sucking humidity of summer are history (I think). But just because we've already had a few nights down in the low 40s doesn't mean I'm giving up on the heirloom tomatoes and basil in my kitchen garden just yet.

As usual, I was late getting most of my tomato plants into the ground this spring, although I did manage to start them all from seed, along with a bunch of pepper plants, for the first time in years. Unfortunately I somehow forgot to start any basil seeds, despite probably having five or six different varieties in my stash, so I ended up with just a few purchased purple plants because by the time I realized I was basilless (new word), everybody was already sold out of green. (Got some beautiful purple basil? Here's what to do with it.)

My four sprawling gold nugget cherry tomato plants, which were loaded with sweet little fruits and planted first so I would get ripe tomatoes as soon as possible, were finished weeks ago; I highly recommend this cheerful variety.

And the usually prolific and flavorful San Marzanos are just about done after battling some kind of wilt all summer and offering up a small and lackluster harvest. It may have been the new (to me) strain of this classic paste heirloom that I tried, or maybe it was just the weather. You never know around here. We haven't been eating them all, so I've been drying a bunch for winter.

But the tasty and reliable VFN slicers (a disease resistant variety I bought from a tiny co-op back in 1995, my first year gardening in Missouri, and have been saving seeds from ever since) and the pink Arkansas Travelers, a pretty, longtime favorite with great flavor that tolerates heat and humidity really well, are finally just coming into their prime.

No problem. A few bed sheets draped over the plants on those cool nights and we're still good to go. After tomorrow night, it's supposed to be in the 80s during the day and stay up in the 50s for at least the next ten days, so I'm looking forward to a little more vine-ripened bounty before I bring all the green tomatoes indoors to ripen

This easy No-Cook Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce is my version of the simple, flavorful pasta sauce made with chopped raw tomatoes and uncooked seasonings that is eaten in country houses all over Italy, and it's the perfect way to celebrate the last juicy tomatoes of the season.

Capers, kalamata olives, garlic, and fresh oregano and basil amp up the Mediterranean flavors, while tossing the hot, drained pasta with some of the tomato sauce juice is a neat trick that makes the whole dish taste lustier. A hunk of crusty bread to sop up every last drop of sauce is optional. Enjoy!

So how did your tomatoes do this year? Any spectacular successes? Massive failures? Tips, tricks, brilliant discoveries? New favorite varieties from the garden or the farmers market?


© FarmgirlFare.com, always garden fresh.

14 comments:

  1. This recipe is one of the things I look forward to most every summer! Our tomatoes did better than usual this year because we were hotter and drier than usual this summer, but I was short on basil, too. Fortunately I was given some at opportune times; I made this sauce again just last Sunday. YUM!

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    1. Hi Michelle,
      It's great to hear you're enjoying this recipe - and that you had a bumper tomato crop! We were visiting some friends before any of my tomatoes were ripe and they were so tired of picking and putting up tomatoes (they had something like 150 plants) that they said, "Have at it!" when I meekly asked if I might steal a few tomatoes from their garden. I had planned to just take a couple of pounds, but I think my two little helpers and I ended up picking about 25 pounds - which, as you probably know, isn't as much as it sounds like! :)

      The sad part is that I somehow forgot about this recipe until AFTER we'd eaten them all. I couldn't believe it. We did have quite a few awesome BLTs though. :)

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    2. Well, thanks to more than one of your recipes, I can be pretty happy with our tomato harvest whatEVER it yields! I never get enough at a time to can quarts, so this year I canned pints (yeah, I can be slow), and made your awesome raw sauce. And as autumn sets in, I know that all those green tomatoes will either ripen nicely on the counter, or make great green tomato salsa (your "relish"). This year I'm going to try using less vinegar; I think my guys will like it better.

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  2. We had a much cooler than average summer here in Colorado! I have a ton of tomatoes and they are very slow to ripen. I foresee boxes and layers of green tomatoes ripening on my counter as well as some green tomato relish!

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    1. Hi Jen,
      A cool summer sounds blissful - except when it messes with tomato ripening. :) Tomatoes ripened indoors aren't quite as good as on the vine, but they sure do taste wonderful in November, don't they?

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  3. I bookmarked your fresh tomato sauce earlier and now you've reminded me to pull it out (or print a new one!) and make it to pair with my gluten free pasta. Couldn't have come at a better time, as our farmers market tomatoes are in full swing. I roast mine and pack them away in the freezer for the winter, but when I say "mine", I mean those that our organic farmers produce. Sadly, I've given up on trying to grow tomatoes here on the California north coast. Even the volunteer cherry tomato in the greenhouse only put out one stem of tomatoes and those are still green. Sigh.
    Thanks so much for thinking of me Susan and for writing on my blog. It's nice to know that even though I don't post very often these days, I'm not forgotten. :-)

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    1. Hi Christine,
      Roasted tomatoes are so good, aren't they? I made a few pans of them for the freezer but then got lazy (and tired of having the oven on so long) and put the next few batches in the dehydrator. Not quite as flavorful, but still nice during a snowstorm.

      I envy your cool summers but not your lack of tomatoes. Thank goodness for your local farmers! :)

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  4. Can I recommend a variety? "Eva Purple Ball" is a perfect, round, dark pink, blemish-free slicer. It's lovely fresh, easy to can, and seems more disease-resistant than almost any other tomato. I've grown over 50 cultivars is this is my favorite heirloom.

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    1. Recommend away - please! You sound like just the kind of experienced tomato grower we need to hear from, and Eva Purple Ball sounds perfect. I'll definitely look it up. Thanks so much!

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  5. tomatoes for us are slowing way down..instead of 30lbs every other day we are down to about 10lbs once a week...our tomatoes did really well shared tons with others and was still able to can up a bunch. next year think i will put up cattle panels to tie to ...less spoilage and less chance turtles eat my mators!
    recipe sounds great will have to bookmark....

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    1. Hi M.E.,
      Congratulations on your bumper tomato crop! Isn't it great when you're able to grow more than you need and can share? The cattle panel idea sounds good - I've seen people do that around here. I trained my cucumbers up onto a piece of welded wire fencing draped over one of my raised beds this year to keep them off the ground - while providing more growing space in the bed below them - and it was sort of a success. I think I'll try and modify it next year.

      I hear you about the turtles. Fortunately ours - knock on wool - only seem to go after the strawberries!

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  6. We tried two new varieties this year. San Marzano and heirloom Brandywine. Our summer here in Northern Vermont was beautiful and the San Marzano's did amazing! As the fruit ripened I used your method for freezing them, Farmgirl Susan. I'll make sauce in January when I have time! But the Brandywine just didn't produce like I'd hoped. I have 8 small tomatoes left and THIS sounds like the perfect way to use them up. Thanks!

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  7. Hi! I found your blog today as I was searching for a way to use up green tomatoes that didn't involve frying them. :) I'm excited to try your recipe for green tomato relish. I think I noticed you mentioning somewhere shiny tomatoes and dull tomatoes -- any idea what the difference is? and is it important? like should I toss the dull ones? Thanks, I appreciate your help!

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  8. Your pasta looks super yummy! I live in the bay area and my tomatoes were only so-so. I had two Sungolds this year after falling in love with it last year. One got this weird wilt and didn't produce well, but the other one took off. I had tiny delicious tomatoes out my ears. : ) Also tried a cherokee purple, but it too got whatever wilt is going around. My peppers did not do well. Someone said our temperature swings were too big this summer, and that's what was causing the flowers to drop prematurely. There's always next year!

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December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

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