This past week I wended my way through some local farmers markets in the western part of Massachusetts, and confirmed the fact that I love pretty colors. I have a tendency to buy vegetables that aren't the color they're supposed to be (as you will see below). A couple of years ago this led to an orgy of eggplants, where I tried everything from pure white through lavender to the standard purple, with a few stripes throw in the middle. (For the record, when I was a child I dyed applesauce blue and ate it.) This year I was playing with peppers and carrots and tomatoes.
The heirloom tomatoes were too pretty to pass up, but then I was faced with doing something with them while they were fresh. So I turned to one of my family's favorite tomato sauce recipes.
I want to say it's a simple sauce, but not quite. It is simple in flavor and cooking. But to be honest, it does require a bit of chopping up front, and then puréeing at the end. You have choices: one, you can chop up your tomatoes, cook, then run through a food mill; or two, you can peel your tomatoes, cook, and stick the sauce into a food processor and whirl away. It's up to you, depending on where you want to put your effort.
In terms of the actual cooking, that is simple too—but not short. But you can use that in your favor. Assemble the ingredients in a pan, set the heat as low as possible, then walk away for an hour, stirring as the spirit moves you. Come back and mill/puree, etc. at the end.
Anyway, it's a flavorful way to highlight your tomatoes, and it's a nice change from a traditional tomato sauce for pasta or, in this case, gnocchi, with a lovely color and texture.
Tomato Cream Sauce½ stick salted butter
3 Tblsp finely chopped yellow onion
3 Tblsp finely chopped carrot
2 ½ cups tomatoes, chopped (you can use canned or fresh; if you use fresh, you may need to add a little extra liquid, depending on how juicy the tomatoes are)
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp sugar
½ cup heavy cream
Put everything except the cream into a saucepan and cook at a bare simmer for an hour, uncovered. Stir with a wooden spoon occasionally.
Purée the contents of the pan through a food mill (or if the tomatoes are skinless, in a food processor or blender). Return the mixture to the saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring. Add the heavy cream and heat through. Taste and correct for salt. Serve immediately, over hot pasta or gnocchi.
BTW, packaged gnocchi are great to keep on hand--they cook in no time at all, and the go well with almost any sauce.