Smashed Tomatoes With Butter. A Very Simple Sauce With A Great Big Flavor - Brando Cucina Blog at - 299410

Brando Cucina

Smashed tomatoes with butter. A very simple sauce with a great big flavor 
Mar. 18, 2013 1:13 pm 
Updated: Apr. 7, 2013 8:51 pm
Well now, it's only mid-March but interesting stuff is showing up at the local Farmers Markets. My wife and I were totally surprised to see locally grown vine-ripened tomatoes! Yes they were dwarf tomatoes grown in the greenhouse, but wow! Picked ripe (not green) and as fresh as could be. Naturally I immediately ran over and bought a few clusters. The tomatoes as mentioned were the dwarf variety, about 2-3x the size of large cherry or grape tomatoes and selected to do well in a greenhouse.

So for my first fresh tomato prep of the season, I decided to do a simple smashed tomato sauce that I'll normally do with large cherry or overripe grape tomatoes. It's a simple sauce ready in 30 minutes that for this round I enhanced with some heavy cream (warning, if you're watching calories this might not be the meal for you). The sauce has a bunch of butter in it which binds with the juices as the tomato releases its liquid to make a rich, creamy sauce with a lot of texture. This does well with gnocchi or small twisted dry pastas with a lot of surface area. For this round I used Campanelle, Farfalle would work, probably better than a tubular shape like penne (my opinion).

The prep:

Finely chop one large shallot
Two cloves of garlic (to be minced)
4 TBSPs olive oil (1/4 cup)
4 TBSPs unsalted butter
2 TBSPs fresh marjoram coarse chop or 1 heaping TBSP from the spice jar
1/8 TSP of Calabrian Chili Paste plus pinch of Peperoncino flakes (substitute 1/4 TSP of chili flakes)
~1 heaping pint fresh cherry, grape or dwarf tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)

Bring oil and butter in a heavy sauce pan to medium-low heat. Add shallot and saute for a few minutes to soften. About two minutes in add the minced garlic, the chili paste and pinch of peperoncino and stir. You can substitute a 1/4 teaspoon of dried chili flakes instead. Continue cooking until shallots turn translucent but before they begin to color. Turn the heat up to medium and add the tomatoes. Let them cook stirring every few minutes until the tomatoes begin to release their juices and break down, reduce heat to medium-low to simmer. Lightly smash the tomatoes with a wooden spoon or spatula.  After 10 minutes or so the sauce should begin to thicken as the oil/butter combine with the tomato. Add the marjoram, a few grinds of ground pepper and taste for salt. Add maybe 1/2 TSP of salt. If you used salted butter instead of unsalted then don't add any salt. Mix well and continue to simmer.

Now at this point if you have made the sauce a little bit ahead, turn the heat off, cover the pan and allow the sauce to sit in the pan for 30-60 minutes for the flavors to blend. If not, that's perfectly fine, you should have your pasta water heating up and pasta boiling, your sauce is about ready. When you have roughly five minutes to go, if you really want to add a "wow" factor, you can optionally add 1/4 cup of heavy cream to the sauce and simmer on low. The cream will pull everything together and bind all the ingredients for a very rich, creamy sauce that clings to the small pasta shape or gnocchi. Note that if you do not add the cream you may need to save 1/4 cup or so of the pasta water just in case you need to add it to the pan to make the sauce creamier.

When the pasta is ready, drain and then pour it back into the pot or a heated bowl. Spoon some of the sauce into the bowl and mix well to coat. Serve in the bowl with the rest of the sauce layered on top or plate to individual servings and spoon a bit more sauce on top. Serve with fresh grated Parmesan.

Time to eat: 30 minutes with prep (unless you allowed the sauce to sit)
Easy factor: very easy
Smashed Tomatos with butter with Campanelle
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Mar. 18, 2013 1:57 pm
Hello again.I make one almost like this with the tomatoes out of the garden,except I don't use cream.There is nothing better then a sauce like this when all is fresh.I froze a bunch of tomatoes at the end of summer,and when I make sauce it brings summer right back.
Mar. 18, 2013 4:10 pm
Well you're lucky that you can grow them! I've tried and tried but unfortunately my back yard doesn't get enough sun so I have to rely on the farmers market for my tomatoes.
Mar. 18, 2013 7:07 pm
Mbrando, OMG this dish sounds so good! It's still cold up here (I am with my Dad up in Maine at the moment) so no fresh tomatoes. But I will keep this recipe for later. My dad had prostate cancer so can't eat anything too hot or spicy. Sounds like this might be a bit of both? Could I cut back on some of it for him? Anyway I am so jealous. I used to live in San Diego and desperately miss the year-round, inexpensive, fantabulous produce there. (I have seen $25/lb for red grapes and paid $7/lb for tomatoes, all which taste like wax, on the island where I live). Keep your stories coming. Wherever I am, I am living vicariously!!
Mar. 18, 2013 8:58 pm
Hi AZ93, the chili flakes just add a bit of edge, not too spicy but even so you could leave them out totally or just add a small pinch. Stay warm!
Mar. 19, 2013 10:21 am
I make something similar but never thought to add the cream. I will surely try it the next time. Thanks for the idea.
Apr. 6, 2013 2:41 pm
I do not have enough sun in the backyard. Last year I planted tomatoes, facing West, in front of the house, by the wall. They did great and looked nice in front of the house with all the greenery and red tomatoes
Apr. 7, 2013 8:51 pm
mbrando - late to the party, but this sounds perfect! I will surely try this summer. Living in San Diego now, but lived in your area for 13 years and went to Los Gatos often. I want to live there again; envious of your home with a garden. Love your posts, btw, keep 'em coming!
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