Plump, locally grown tomatoes make this “plain and simple” sauce vibrate with sun-ripened goodness. It’s excellent as is—over polenta, pasta, couscous or rice—or vary it with any number of additions and toppings throughout the harvest season.
Use a small, sharp knife to cut the core out of the tomatoes. For a rustic, flavorful sauce peeling and seeding them isn’t necessary. (But if you’re going for a little elegance, immerse the cored tomatoes a few at a time in a pot of boiling water for 10-20 seconds. Remove to a colander and when they’ve cooled, pull the skins off. Cut them in half crosswise and gently dig out the seeds with your fingers.) Dice the tomatoes.
Heat the butter or olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low flame. When the butter begins to foam, add the shallots or onions and cook them, stirring often, 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, a large pinch of salt and a small pinch of pepper and raise the heat to medium-high. Let the mixture cook at a good bubble, stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes. Turn off the flame. Use an immersion blender to puree the sauce (or not—your choice). Return the sauce to low heat to keep it warm until you’re ready to serve it.
A couple of minutes before serving time, stir in additions (see below) as desired, along with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the sauce with hot pasta, or ladle it over soft polenta, rice or whole-wheat couscous. Finish with a topping and serve immediately.
Copyright by Terese Allen