Next to Christmas, tomato season is my favorite time of year. And like Christmas, it’s probably ok that it only comes once a year. Would we really appreciate great tomatoes if we could pick them up like bananas in the produce department of any grocery store all year?
I have some favorite tomato-based recipes that I turn to this time of year and last night I made one of them: Pasta and Fresh Tomato Sauce with Onion and Bacon from Cook’s Illustrated. It’s quick and easy and really showcases the tomatoes and plus it’s got BACON! (I think you could omit the bacon if you don’t eat meat or pork although you might need a touch more fat. You might try adding some chopped Kalamata olives to replace the flavor).
Pasta and Fresh Tomato Sauce with Onion and Bacon
4 strips bacon (about 4 oz.) cut into 1/4″ pieces
1 medium onion, minced
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, peeled, seeded [I rarely seed or skin tomatoes, what a pain!] and cut into 1/2″ pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 pound pasta (short types work best: penne, fusilli, rotini)
1. Heat bacon and onion in one tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until onion begins to brown and bacon begins to crisp, about 6 minutes [stir frequently or else your onion will cook much faster than your bacon]. Stir in tomatoes; increase heat to medium-high and cook until liquid given off by tomatoes evaporates and tomato pieces lose their shape to form a chunky sauce, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley and salt to taste; cover to keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot or kettle. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta. Cook until pasta is al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water [I almost always forget to do this; put a measuring cup in your strainer to remind yourself]; drain pasta and transfer back to cooking pot. Mix in reserved cooking water, sauce, and remaining tablespoon [seems like they forgot the third tablespoon of olive oil so I threw it in at this point]; toss well to combine. Serve immediately [how's that for pressure!]. I also put some grated parmesan on at this point.