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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Speaking of eating locally


Lunch today was really super local. I tagged along with David to our friend Joe's farm, Dirty Girl, to pick up produce for Manresa. The farm is barely a mile from downtown Santa Cruz, but its beauty seems a million mile away. The produce David ordered had just been picked and box this very morning, and was there ready for us when we arrived. That I am a fan of Joe's dry-farmed tomatoes is no secret, and the ones I saw this morning were especially beautiful. I couldn't stop myself from sneaking a few from one of the boxes intended for the restaurant, imagining in my head a simple bowl of pasta with fresh tomato sauce. I knew we had no basil at home, so after a quick glance around to see that no one was looking, I sneaked into the field and snipped a bit of basil for the sauce. Just two teenie weenie springs, my dear Joe, I swear. Sorry, desperate times called for desperate measures. Shhh....

The fresh tomato sauce I love to do is barely cooked, and so simple it would be a crime to even have a recipe. I begin by cooking up a batch of pasta, sometimes I use angel hair, other times penne. While the water is boiling or the pasta cooking, take a few tomatoes, peel, seed, and crush by hand into big chunks. (If you use dry farmed tomatoes, then there's no need to squeeze out excess liquid, but if you use regular tomatoes, I suggest getting rid of a bit of the liquid before adding to the pan.) Chop up a clove or two of garlic, as much or little as you like. Take a big sauce pan, add a bit of olive oil, then the garlic, wait until it's fragrant, then in go the crushed tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook only just for a minute or two, until everything comes together. The sauce really doesn't have to be cooked long. Add the drained pasta to the sauce, then a handful of torn basil and another dash of fresh olive oil. There you have it. Super simple. I'd only do this if you have tasty tomatoes though, since there is hardly any doctoring involved in the cooking. Bland supermarket tomatoes will not do.

And you know what Max, my lunch is better than yours. For sure.


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