I am not big on preserving. In fact, I’m not big on spending a lot of time on anything in the kitchen that doesn’t turn out to be dinner.
But half-bushels of tomatoes appeared at my local farm stands this week, and that’s my prompt to empty the freezer to make room for sauce.
Most of the year — about 50 weeks out of 52 where I live — commercial canned tomatoes are better for sauce than anything fresh I can put my hands on. (If you’re stocking up, check out this taste test we did earlier this year.)
So while I can buy fragrant, ripe tomatoes (at bulk prices), I’ll simmer a big batch of basic sauce to use for dinners like this sourdough deep-dish pizza from Tejal Rao: the only oven-baked pizza I’ve ever considered a total success. And then another few quarts of this Julia Child classic, because the orange peel, parsley and coriander seed make it great in braises, stews and soups. Both will go into quart containers and last in the freezer all winter long.
(It is not a coincidence that, in both of these recipes, I’m not expected to peel or mill or sieve a single tomato. A food processor makes quick work of blending skin into sauce.)
You might look forward to tomato season for other reasons entirely: to char them on the grill for a salsa like this salsa tatemada from Pati Jinich; to combine them with handfuls of chopped herbs in a salad like our new one from Hetty McKinnon (above), with tamarind and maple for extra sweet-and-sour effect; or to make a one-bowl dinner of David Tanis’s tomato risotto.
Are you more of a dessert person? Coconut milk has become my M.V.P. for pandemic cooking, and both limber de coco (frozen pops) from Puerto Rico (via the Bronx and the chef Millie Peartree) and Melissa Clark’s chilled seis leches cake show off its lush taste.
Here’s a question: What are you listening to in the kitchen? Since I now spend so much of the day there, the usual news-radio background gets repetitive. And for me, cooking’s too noisy and distracting to give proper attention to an audiobook. It turns out my sweet spot is advice podcasts (like Dear Prudence and Dear Sugars) and long-ago-history podcasts like “Noble Blood” and “You Must Remember This.” (Plus, I’ll admit, a weekly dose of up-to-the-minute “Real Housewives” analysis.) Send me your favorites at [email protected].
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