Early Girl tomatoes are available at farmer’s or better markets. According to Specialty Produce, "The globe-shaped Early Girl is an early season tomato, usually around the size of a tennis ball at full maturity. Bright red, smooth-skinned and slightly flattened in shape, the Early Girl tomato is meaty and can be quite sweet and concentrated in flavor. Early Girl tomatoes are popular for the flavor they impart and their early season appearance. These bright red tomatoes are often dry-farmed, meaning the plant is cut off after early irrigation and the roots are left to stress and struggle to reach water and the result is what some call the IDEAL tomato. Early Girl tomatoes are considered ‘slicing’ tomatoes, and make great additions to sandwiches, bagels and quartered on salads. The sweet flavor makes for a wonderful soup or sauce, though preparations that require minimal cooking are more ideal for highlighting the early-season tomato’s flavor. Leave tomatoes at room temperature; refrigerating can alter the flavor and creates a mealy texture.”
Storing Tomatoes: Please, never refrigerate tomatoes! Refrigeration can make tomatoes dry, dull tasting and mealy. Instead, store in a cool, dry spot on the counter and try to use within a few days of purchase. Most farm fresh tomatoes (with natural covering from nature) will keep on the counter for about a week.
Notes to remember when making tomato sauce:
(1) No need to peel the tomatoes. Most of the flavor and nutrition is found in the skins. Use them whole and then pass through a fine-mesh strainer. Best to use a small 2-ounce ladle to press the solids through the strainer.
(2) Season with salt to balance the acidity of the tomatoes - not sugar!
(3) Use a stainless-interior pan to cook the tomatoes, not aluminum or cast-iron, as the acids in the tomatoes will react with the metals and your sauce will have a metallic taste!
2 pounds Early Girl tomatoes (washed and stems removed)
3 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1 small branch basil
1 small sprig thyme
1 large pinch salt
1 small pinch black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
• Place all ingredients in a stockpot with a lid. Place pot over low heat. Cook for 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Halfway through cooking, remove lid and continue to simmer slowly.
• Remove bay leaf; process the mixture in a blender, and then pass through a fine mesh strainer. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
• Serve with your favorite pasta or gnocchi garnished with fresh shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and fresh basil.
• This sauce also freezes well for future use.
Serves 2 quarts
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CHEF CHARLIE'S BLOG
Chef Charlie is a Bay Area chef, culinary food educator, lifestyle coach, food enthusiast and culinary travel guide, who is fascinated by the interplay of food and culture.