Monday, June 30, 2008

$13 Local Tomatoes

Yes, $13 dollar tomatoes.

Yes, local tomatoes.

And, yes. I live in Manhattan.

So, Friday night finally came. I was exhausted from a long week of work, and too many consecutive nights of drinks. When I had finally dried out from the prior weekend's non-stop drinking (Rites of Spring event Thursday, with a champagne flute always at my side, to Friday's blood orange margaritas to welcome the weekend, to wine at brunch on Saturday, to a pre-dinner champagne cocktail, and more wine with dinner), it began again on Tuesday with wine over backgammon, then a company party complete with margaritas and dancing til my feet fell off Wednesday, to a birthday/farewell party for two dear former co-workers (complete with wine!) Thursday. 

Maybe I was still fuzzy in the brain from all the booze (and heat), but as soon as I walked in to Eli's Vinegar Factory and smelled tomatoes, I knew I was in trouble. Nothing quite beats fresh tomatoes, still warm from the sun.

And, yes - these qualified! Grown in a greenhouse, right on top of the store, these were local and fresh Manhattan tomatoes. They were soon to be my dinner, too! I headed to the check out, and swiped my card as the cashier told me my total. Wait, WHAT?!!! $13 for three tomatoes?? I quickly thought about saying no and not buying my tomatoes. But, I have been watching these tomatoes grow in that greenhouse every morning since March. I had to at least try them out. And I did.

At the time, I had not quite figured out how I wanted to use these beautiful red orbs. I soon remembered I had some leftover fres spinach pasta in the freezer, and a half a head of garlic. Who needs a hot pasta sauce on a day like that when I had a bag of fresh tomatoes in my hand?

I started prepping my sauce: chopping four small cloves of garlic (note: you can't press garlic and expect to get a good flavor. I'm all for ease, but there is seriously something lacking in that pureed garlic mush that comes out. Believe me). I added that to my bowl, along with a pinch of Maldon salt. I then began working on the tomatoes, slicing the first 2/3 up from the bottom, taking off the top. I squeezed some of the juice into my green salad (a little liquid for the dressing), and then roughly chopped the rest of the tomato, and added it to the garlic. I repeated with the second tomato, this time adding most of the juice to the tomato garlic mixture so that it all can marinate. A little toss, and I put it aside.

By the time the sauce was done, my water was boiling. I added my pasta, and let it cook til it was al dente. Drained it all, saving some water in case I needed it, and I tossed the pasta with a little bit of fresh pesto, in lieu of oil, so that it wouldn't stick. Quite an easy step that I used to forget - but it makes such a difference. I plated the pasta, and topped it with the tomato mixture, and some swiss cheese (all I had). 

Albeit the tomatoes had only sat for at most 10 minutes, there was a lovely light garlic flavor to the tomato broth, and the tomato flavor was quite delicious. Though I might think again about buying three tomatoes for $13, I won't have to think twice before making this dish - it is a perfect summer pasta dish for a hot summer day (I just wish I had taken a picture of it). Bon appetit!

No comments: