With the leftover chicken from my broth (see my last post), I decided to make a tomato sauce to put over pasta. Although any tomato sauce will work, this particular sauce is a technique I developed last winter.
In the past several years, I’ve been constantly amazed at how sweet and delicious those ubiquitous grape tomatoes have been, in stark contrast to the watery, flavorless other varieties of winter tomatoes. Even the ones “on the vine” are bland weak facsimiles of real summer tomatoes. Before grape tomatoes appeared in every market, I would make my tomato sauce with canned san marzano tomatoes (which I still do, often). Or on special occasions, I’ll use my mother’s home-canned Jersey tomatoes from the fall (the gold standard of tomatoes).
But when the grape tomatoes are a nice deep red color (they can even be shriveling a bit), they make a sauce that rivals summer tomatoes. It’s the simplest thing–take a couple of pints of them, rinse them and remove any rotten ones–then simply run them through the food processor until they’re a coarse puree. Saute a bit of onion in some olive oil until it’s translucent, pour in the tomatoes and simmer for twenty minutes on low. Add a couple of basil leaves, or in the case of my chicken sauce, I like a sprig of rosemary, which I pull out before serving.
A lot of olive oil is required for this sauce since the pureed tomatoes can be on the watery side. They need the body of the oil to become a sauce–not a soup. The flavor of this sauce will definitely bring you back to summertime.
The perfect accompaniment for pasta, in my opinion, is always salad. For this meal, I made another of my winter salads, using arugula, clementines, green olives (they keep appearing because I bought a large container) and almonds. Clementines and oranges are two of the things I absolutely look forward to about winter–I eat them every day.
Tomato Sauce with Chicken
2 pints ripe grape tomatoes, rinsed
6 tbl extra virgin olive oil
2 tbl finely chopped onion or shallot
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 rosemary sprig or 6 basil leaves, torn in half
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded dark meat chicken
Heat onion in oil on low heat in wide-sided sauce pot until onion just begins to turn golden. Pour in tomatoes and add salt and rosemary sprig (if using) and simmer on low for about 20 to 25 minutes. Add shredded dark meat from chicken and simmer 5 minutes longer. Toss with fettucine (or short, fat pasta like rigatoni). Toss in basil at the end (if using).
Serve with more oil drizzled on top and lots of grated pecorino romano and black pepper.
Makes enough sauce to dress 1 lb of pasta
Arugula and Clementine Salad
2 Bunches of arugula, washed, dried and sliced crosswise into wide ribbons
4 clementines, peeled and sliced crosswise into thin slices
8 large cerignola olives, pitted
1/2 cup slivered or coarsely sliced almonds
1 tbl red wine vinegar
2 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp agave or honey
salt and pepper to taste.
In a large salad bowl or mixing bowl, drizzle the vinegar over the greens first, then the agave or honey, then the oil and some salt and pepper. Toss, taste, and add more salt if necessary.
Arrange clementines on top among the greens and sprinkle with olives and almonds.