Recipe Swap: Fresh tomatoes make a quick sauce in summer | Food

While we still have fresh tomatoes in our backyards and at the farmers markets, now is the time to make some fresh tomato sauce.

The rest of the year, canned tomatoes do just fine in all pasta sauces. But during the summer, consider a sauce of all fresh tomatoes.

There are two main ways to peel, seed and chop quantities of tomatoes. Which way you use may depend on how much time you have and your tolerance for tomato mess.

The quickest, most efficient and messiest method is to use a box grater. Cut the tomatoes in half, gently squeeze out the seeds, then rub the cut side on the grater until you get down to just the skin — then toss the skin. What’s left is pure pulp.

The other method requires boiling a pot of water and blanching the tomatoes, then letting them cool before slipping off the skins, seeding and chopping. It takes more time, but it’s less likely to leave tomato splatters on the counter and cabinets.

With either method, the resultant pulp probably will still be more watery than canned tomatoes. If you have time, just simmer the sauce a bit longer — you can still make it in 30 minutes or so.

Or if you are in a hurry, strain the chopped or pureed pulp and use only the strained solids in the sauce. That strained mixture will thicken quite quickly — and it can even be used in raw preparations.

When the tomatoes are really good, some folks take the strained pulp, toss it with hot pasta and serve it immediately without cooking the tomatoes.

This sauce doesn’t need much extra flavor, but I like adding some fresh basil. I also like it with capers. Other good additions are fresh dill, thyme or black olives.

Send requests or recipes to Recipe Swap, c/o Michael Hastings, Food Editor, Winston-Salem Journal, P.O. Box 3159, Winston-Salem, NC 27102; or email to [email protected] Please include name, address and a daytime telephone number. Previously published recipes are available in the Recipe Database at

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