Cookbook author Mindy Toomay's blog about eating for health, cooking with spirit, and celebrating life in northern California. Here she dishes up food rants and raves, recipes, and plenty of kitchen wisdom.

By your own efforts, waken yourself, watch yourself, and live joyfully.
-- The Dhammapada

Why not make a daily pleasure out of a daily necessity?
-- Peter Mayle


Where tomato is king

Could I live and cook and be happy without tomatoes? Probably. But I'm glad I don't have to try.

My very first job for money was picking tomatoes in the fields west of Sacramento, dubbed Sack-o-tomatoes by the locals because of its perfect climate for growing the ruby fruits. For a couple of years, my older brother and I walked from our apartment complex out to the main road and caught a bracero bus at the crack of dawn on late summer mornings. We rode silently and comfortably in the company of immigrant adults to the fields, then worked together to fill crates with ripe tomatoes and send them off to be weighed so we could get paid for our efforts. We were hard workers and made enough money to pay for our own back-to-school clothes when our parents sometimes couldn't.

So I was introduced to vine-ripened, just-picked tomatoes early on in life and fell in love forever. When I got thirsty or hungry in the fields, I would eat a ripe tomato out of my hand, as you would an apple, and be refreshed by its juicy sweetness. To this day I can pick up the aroma of a tomato field from a long way off , and a plate of sliced tomatoes dressed up with olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and fresh basil is one of my favorite feasts on a hot August day.

Except in the summer, though, I don't eat fresh tomatoes. I just can't stand the insipid winter specimens. When I want tomatoes in the cold months, I almost always use the canned or dried variety.

Tonight I made a pesto-like sauce for pasta using both canned and dried. Here's the procedural. 1) Saute a diced onion and a few cloves of chopped garlic in olive oil with chili flakes until beginning to brown. 2) Add a good slosh of red or white wine and can of tomatoes, with juice. 3) Bring to a simmer and cook for several minutes, than add a good quantity of minced parsley. 4) Simmer for another 5 minutes, then transfer to a blender. 5) Add a few oil-packed dried tomatoes and puree. 6) Thin out with a small amount of pasta cooking water and toss with cooked pasta, including some Parmesan cheese if you like.

As you can see, the super-spouse liked it a lot. And in case you think it looks like a dainty portion for a big, strapping guy -- never fear, it's his second helping.

Blessings and bon appetit!


At 3:55 PM, Anonymous Stevi said...

yum yum lucky spouse :)

At 11:09 PM, Blogger Mindy T. said...

He looks like he feels like a pretty lucky spouse, doesn't he. Thanks for visiting, Stevi...


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