The farmer's markets are coming to a close here in my county, so I made a run and got some last minute things. Namely, tomatoes...because I feel compelled to make at least one fresh tomato sauce each season.
Years ago I made Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Roasted Tomato Sauce and it was so delicious it was quite literally out-of-this-world! I'm not sure if any tomato sauce recipe could top that; but in my mind if one could, then it would be an Ina Garten recipe. So, this is how I arrived at Ina's Orecchiette with Farm Stand Pasta Sauce.
Now, make sure you're in the mood for some time in the kitchen if you make this, because you're going to be blanching and peeling and coring and chopping and stirring for a couple hours.
Ina's Farm Stand Pasta Sauce is a combination of blanched, peeled and cored fresh tomatoes combined with olive oil, red onion, celery, carrots, garlic, full-bodied red wine, tomato paste, fresh basil and parsley, a touch of sugar, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper that is cooked down for about an hour or more, before being blended to the consistency you like.
You can see here in this picture that is can be quite chunky or blended up until smooth. Your choice!
I chose to to keep my sauce somewhere in the middle (with some chunks so that it would still look fresh). Upon finishing the sauce I could tell that I had enough sauce for two pounds of pasta so I bottled up half in a mason jar. I've noticed over the years that all Ina's recipes for sauce make at least double or more than what's really necessary and I am not sure why that is.
However, this is important information in regards to this particular recipe because the pasta finishes cooking in the tomato sauce. If I didn't remove half of the sauce then I would have had tomato and pasta soup. So, if you chose this recipe, remove half the sauce (you can always add some back in).
Lastly, be sure to use the orecchiette called for in this recipe and/or pasta shells. The orecchiette or shells are like little cups that hold the sauce quite well, making the perfect vessel for the sauce.
If you like a very fresh tasting tomato sauce that screams of summer, then this recipe is for you!
Orecchiette with Farm Stand Pasta Sauce
Adapted from Cooking For Jeffrey
by Ina Garten
5 pounds good red summer tomatoes
good olive oil
1-1/2 cups chopped red onion
1-1/2 cups medium-diced celery
1-1/2 cups scrubbed and medium-diced carrots (2 to 4 carrots)
2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
1/2 cup full-bodied red wine, such as Chianti or California Syrah
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup shopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound orecchiette pasta, such as De Cecco
Freshly grated Italian Pecorino and/or Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a full boil. Plunge the tomatoes into the water for 15 to 45 seconds (depending on their ripeness), drain, and immerse in a large bowl of cold water. Remove the cores and peel the tomatoes with a small paring knife. Cut the tomatoes into 1-1/2" dice and set aside.
In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, heat 1/3 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the celery and carrots, and cook, stirring often, for 10 to 12 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
Add the tomatoes, wine, tomato paste, basil, parsley, sugar, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat, and cook, almost totally covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. In batches, pour the sauce into a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse 2 to 3 times, until roughly chopped.
To serve, cook the orecchiette in a large pot of boiling salted water, following the directions on the package, and drain. Pour the pasta sauce into the pasta pot and reheat over medium heat, until simmering. Stir in the cooked pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until hot. Taste for seasonings and ladle into large, shallow pasta bowls. Sprinkle with Pecorino and/or Parmesan (I combine the two) and serve hot with extra cheese on the side.