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Wednesday, June 27, 2012


We're still waiting for our heirloom tomato plants to mature and ripen. Coupled with our weird backyard micro-climate that slows growth, we planted our tomatoes late. Tucked behind nine foot high old wooden fences, we water our potted tomatoes, baby them, and wait. We wait and enjoy the fruits of the farmers' market.  While most of the tomatoes at the market  are hydroponic or greenhouse grown, gorgeous vine ripened field grown heirloom varieties have started to hit the farm stands. Lately, I've been jacked up on  the big bad ugly tomatoes.  The seconds. The culls. The tomatoes most people don't want because they're downright ugly.  This time of year, people crave the pretty ones. Slicing tomatoes. Sandwich tomatoes. Salad tomatoes.  Not me. I crave the ones that are too slutty to slice or  pamper.

Oh sure, I still buy the cute little Yellow Pear, Black Krim, and Black Cherokee Plum tomatoes.  However, the snarled, gnarly, blemished, cracked, scarred, and overripe ugly tomatoes always pull me into their gorgeous mangled ugliness like juicy magnets.

Our kitchen windowsill has been lined with uglies for a few weeks, standing like dutiful soldiers reflecting the sun and teetering on the verge of spontaneous combustion. I needed to use them. Sliced? No way. Cooked? Nope.

Raw Tomato Sauce.

I pulled the largest Brandywine tomato from the windowsill and plopped it into a large bowl, causing it  to splat into a tomato heap. The tomato practically peeled itself. The skin simply slid off, exposing deep red tomato flesh. After snipping away the blemishes and hard green stuff, I minced the flesh and squeezed it  between my fingers until I had a bowl of pulp. Crazy. After seasoning the raw sauce with salt, pepper, and minced garlic, I drizzled it with very good extra virgin olive oil before letting it macerate at room temperature to blend the flavors.

Any pasta would have worked beautifully.  With such few simple ingredients, I wanted a delicate pasta.  A simple pasta.  Homemade pasta.

After sifting 1 1/2 cups flour into a large mixing bowl, I added 2 large organic egg yolks, 1 large organic whole egg, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons ice water, and salt. Working from the outer edges, I slowly pulled the flour into the eggs, gently working together until they formed a smooth pliable dough.  After kneading the dough for 10 minutes ( adding water or flour for the right consistency), I gathered the dough into a ball, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and let it rest for an hour.

Working with a fourth of the dough at a time, I passed the dough through the lowest setting on the pasta roller several times, folding  and flouring it before each pass until it was smooth.When I felt the dough was ready to roll,  I hand-cranked it through the rollers, increasing the setting with each pass until I had long  thin pliable pasta sheets. After cutting the sheets into linguini ribbons, I tumbled them onto a floured towel to dry.

That was it. Tomato juice and flour dust. Magical.

I boiled the fresh pasta in heavily salted water for 3 minutes, scooped it out, tossed it with the raw tomato sauce, and twirled it into large pasta bowls, finishing with fresh basil, olive oil, and cracked black pepper.

While the warm pasta absorbed a bit of the tomato juices, the sauce was wonderfully loose.

Slurpy. Fresh. Clean. Raw.

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