Where did August go? Doesn’t August always seem like a month that barely exists, it happens along so quickly? Now, September. Times are good and quite busy. Riley, my daughter, who is nearly a year old now, has taken over completely, if not wonderfully, our lives. When I think of food, real food, I think of her first, and what can I introduce to her palate next. This week she’s been eating mushy peas with mint from the garden and she seems to find it delicous. But the brown rice and azuki beans I made haven’t struck a good chord only a series of unhappy faces and snorts. The idea of a brand new, impressionable palate obsesses me. An observation I made through my nose as of late is that when you open a baby food jar bought from the store it smells like very little and smells almost exactly like all of the other food in the other jars, no matter whether it’s meat or fruit. Creepy. It isn’t always easy to find the time to make a homemade batch of baby food but it can be done and I’ll go out on a limb here, it should be done.
My other current obsession now besides my daughter’s new palate is the tomato. I always get worked up this time of year over that little red fruit/vegetable, or in some cases yellow, orange, or green. The window for their appearance and loveliness isn’t big enough for me in Minnesota. I’ve been doing my regular batches of roasted tomatoes with garlic, herbs, cinnamon sometimes, and processing them into sauces. Tonight I’m going to throw a bit of that chunky sauce on top of dough for a pizza along with a local yellow bell pepper and mozzarella. At the Wedge you can find the very stylish San Marzano tomatoes in quantity from Breezy Hill Farm. They make an exquisite sauce if nothing else and are organic. I’ve given you this recipe before but I’ll provide it again, only because it is so darned simple, delicious, seasonally appropriate and endlessly versatile, and those are the sort of recipes I celebrate most.
Easy/Versatile Roasted Tomato Sauce
2lbs. real/ripe tomatoes (1 lb usually about 1 cup of sauce), olive oil, salt, pepper; other options to add are garlic cloves, cinnamon sticks, saffron, vinegar (such as red wine or balsamic), and fresh herbs (but once it’s done in the oven)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Split your tomatoes in half and face them up in a single row in a roasting pan or 1 inch deep baking pan. Drizzle over your olive oil and sprinkle over your salt and pepper, and add any other additions you please. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until they begin to wrinkle and loosen a bit. At this point you can pass the tomatoes with their juice through a food mill or chop in a food processor or just do as I sometimes do when my child is acting cranky in my other arm and just smash with a fork; this will make a very coarse, chunky style sauce. Freeze in storage bags or process in canning jars if you’ve much left over. Enjoy!
What else is in season now? For now’s the most fecund time in Minnesota where you can pretty much buy all things you need in the produce section from local growers. Here’s what you can find at the market right now: zucchini and summer squash, all varieties of eggplant, broccoli and cauliflower, sweet corn, cucumbers, a good variety of greens, beets, herbs, onions, fresh garlic, melons, apples (early), blueberries, raspberries, and of course, all varieties of tomatoes. Eat your heart out!
Until next month, be well and eat just as well,