…or Dinner From Head-scratch to Table
Riding home from work at the San Francisco Film Society, I thought about what’s-for-dinner. The cour di bue, Ox-heart heirloom paste tomatoes I brought from the Saturday Market at the Mariquita Farms stall, were getting soft and needed to be used. I had already decided on Tomatoes Concassees, a fresh tomato sauce recipe from Andy at the Farm. It’s quick and easy and good and will use all the tomatoes, including the Early Girls I have. But what to go with?
I remembered seeing sausages, new from Fra’Mani, at Cheese +. I have wanted to try those, what better time? I bought a pack of Classic Italian and a pack of Spicy Italian, three fat sausages to the pack. They looked scrumptious, even the packaging was seductive. Cheese + didn’t have any fresh pasta, not that I noticed, but I didn’t look very hard. I thought we had some Barilla Spaghetti at home.
When I got home, the kitchen was a mess. I hadn’t done the dishes from yesterday. There was no spaghetti in the cupboard. It was quarter to five. When I researched my Pasta by the Book piece for this site I got pretty good at making a quick batch of pasta; again, what better time?
I cleared enough room on the counter for the pasta board and set to work. A batch for me is one James Beard small batch; 1 1/2 cups of flour, a pinch of salt, 2 eggs and a tablespoon of olive oil for the food processor. The eggs were supposed to be room temperature, but there was no time for that. In no time I had a good ball of dough and set it to rest.
While the dough rested, I cleaned up the dishes, pots and pans, and even the just used food processor. That felt good all by itself. The dinger dinged, half-an-hour rest completed, as I prepared the kitchen table for pasta duty. I set up the machine, rolled and cut the pasta, and had it in little piles on the table by six o’clock. That’s pretty good. Eric says he can go from eggs-and-flour to table in an hour, but to do that, he would have to skip the resting. That was quick enough for me. I had an hour to put my feet up before cooking.
Tomatoes Concassees is a fresh, uncooked tomato sauce, oh-so-simple to prepare, but bright and tasty. It’s just onions and garlic (cooked enough to soften) tomatoes, and lots of fresh basil. Unadulterated, the flavors of the fresh ingredients speak for themselves.
It took a while to cook the fresh, fat sausages so those went on while I brought a pot of water to boil. I used the boiling water to dunk the tomatoes for peeling and then again, later, for the pasta. Meanwhile, I started the onions and garlic. This was the first time I had used cour di bue tomatoes. They were dense, but soft, and they get saucy in the pan with just a stir to combine them with the onions. The pasta took only three minutes to cook, so the plates were quickly on the table.
The Fra’Mani sausages are worthy of Paul Bertolli. The original chef at Chez Panisse, he had his own restaurant, Oliveto, for a number of years, and now has taken to making salumi full time. His salumi products have met the market one or two at a time and I have made it a point to try them all. Each has been perhaps the best I have tasted, and these sausages were no exception. They were dense, with just the right amount of fat to enhance, flavor and moisten the sausage. The Spicy Italian is not for the timid. Unlike many products labeled “spicy,” this one packs a rich, full kick. Carol prefers the Classic Italian.
Not fast food, but I rapidly went from “what’s for dinner” to a delicious weeknight meal and had an hour of “feet up” time. I’ll take that.
From Julia in the Mariquita Farm Ladybug Letter
This is the French term for chopped, seeded, and peeled tomatoes, I think. Andy likes to make a fresh pasta sauce this time of year and call it “Tomates Concassées” because he read about it in a book years ago. He basically makes a â€˜salsa’ but with the Italian red sauce ingredients, all raw but the onions and garlic and of course the noodles. I’ve seen him make it many times, below is my approximation:
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, any color
1/2 pound onions (one onion)
2 garlic cloves
some olive oil
1/2 bunch of basil
juice from a small lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring a saucepan of water to boil. Rinse the tomatoes. Lower the tomatoes, 2 or 3 at a time, depending on their size, into the boiling saucepan of water. They should only bathe for *5* seconds, no longer. Remove to a cutting board, rinse in cool water if you like. When all the tomatoes are done, remove peels and seeds, and roughly chop.
2. Peel and chop onions and garlic. Saute the onions in a little oil over medium heat in a wide largish soup pan for a few minutes, then add the garlic. Take care not to burn either. Remove from heat when both are soft and won’t be raw and crunchy in the sauce.
3. Wash and chop basil, then mix it with the cooled onion mixture, and the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Andy is very liberal with the pepper…) Toss with just cooked noodles, and eat.
This is really good, and I told Julia so at her stall in the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. She said, “I can’t believe people in San Francisco use my recipes.”
“Hey.” I said, “Simple and good.”