How I love the sight of fresh picked tomatoes from my garden. It tickles me to no end to think that I grew these little treasures – absolutely one of life’s simple pleasures for me. It warms my soul through and through thinking of all the generations before me, whether in America or Italy, that tended to their gardens as I do now and how they also must have spent their hot August days surrounded in a sea of tomatoes.
Ok – so I got a bit carried away again this year with the tomato plants in the garden. But I have an excuse – I just can’t kill those little San Marzano seedlings that I carried back as seeds from Italy and then lovingly tended to week after week until they grew – yes GREW into little plants. I DID give some away but I still had a handful extra and who in their right mind could throw these cute little plants away rather than allow them to grow into big beautiful plants? Am I right??
So, I now find myself surrounded by baskets and baskets of gorgeous fresh plump tomatoes. And all the San Marzano plants went BOOM at the same time – so my kitchen is awash in tomatoes (and fruit flies) right now. I already have a freezer full of pureed tomatoes and being the easily-bored type decided to mix it up. So last eve, I got to work. I first made of batch of gorgeous Salsa Pronta from Fabrizia Lanza’s ‘Coming Home to Sicily’ cookbook and then made a batch of Tomato and Caramelized Onion Jam.
I will post the jam recipe in a few days but I couldn’t wait to write this post on Salsa Pronta! What a absolute treat…its flavor delicious; its pink-tinged hue delightful. I whipped up the first batch last eve to give it a try and this morning woke up at the crack of dawn (ok before dawn if I am being truthful) excited to whip up a huge pot with my latest harvest of tomatoes. They simmer as I type. This recipe is a absolute keeper! Thank you Fabrizia for sharing your tradition. (And in a completely almost unrelated note, I was fortunate enough to have actually met the beautiful couple that co-authored and photographed this beautiful Sicilian cookbook. They live locally and were at a local farm to table dinner. Such a small beautiful world at times…)
Much love as this beautiful tomato filled summer draws to a close,
Fabrizia Lanza’s Salsa Pronta
- 5 pounds Roma (plum) tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 2 large red onions, coarsely chopped, divided
- 3 bay leaves, preferably fresh
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled, divided
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Leaves from 1 large bunch basil
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
- Food mill, blender
Combine the tomatoes and water in a large pot. Add half of the red onions, the bay leaves and 2 garlic cloves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the tomatoes split and begin to break up, about 20 minutes (stir frequently to keep from sticking). Continue to simmer, covered, stirring frequently, until the mixture becomes a rough puree, about 20 minutes more. Remove from the heat and pass the puree through a food mill to separate the skins from the tomatoes.
Combine the olive oil, basil leaves, remaining onion, and remaining 2 garlic cloves in a blender or food processor and puree until very smooth. Transfer the tomato puree and the basil puree into a large cleaned pot and cook over medium heat, uncovered, until slightly thickened, 20 to 30 minutes (not too stiff; you want this to be a tomato sauce, not a paste). Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and sugar to taste. Cool. The sauce can be canned (if canning, pour the sauce in to sterilized jars or bottles while it is still hot) or storing in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.