Guest Author - Jason Hodge
In my tomato, olive oil sauce recipe I rarely measure... I eyeball it, going by the look, feel and aroma of the sauce. Unlike many who balk at the concept of using extra virgin olive oil in their cooking, I happen to like the flavor it imparts to every dish I use it in, so I use it, and liberally, and have had no complaints. The main thing you want to keep in mind is to make sure not to overheat it. If your extra virgin olive oil, or any other oil you're using for that matter, starts smoking on you... you've gone too far. At that point you're damaging the delicate proteins in the oils and they become carcinogens.
The thing I like most about tomatoes and olive oil is, for one, they seem to be a match made in heaven. The acid of the tomato and the fat of the oil do this dance on the palate that works, when you treat them right to begin with. This means that you're going to infuse the oil soluble flavors of the tomato into the olive oil. I do this with heat and I leave the seeds and skin on my tomatoes. I'm not a fan of getting rid of nutrients from my food whenever possible. The skin is loaded with flavor and nutrients as are the seeds. Most discard them because of the bitterness the seeds give, but, like I said... I've never gotten any complaints and in return, I've helped boost the nutrient content of the meal.
Flavors, from the sweet, sour and salty to the bitter, pungent and savory are all important factors that not only enhance the overall enjoyment of a meal, but have their places in the healing your food delivers to your body, but that's another discussion. More on that another time.
So here you go. My basic tomato and olive oil sauce recipe. It'll more than likely be a different take on the traditional and it'll afford you a platform to bend it from here in many different directions.
Tomato Olive Oil Recipe
1 large skillet [stainless steel or enameled]
1 large spoon, spatula [wooden if possible, but not crucial]
1 splatter screen [optional - but for some, necessary] ;-)
2 cups tomatoes [grape, cherry or other small heirloom - kept whole and washed]
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil [give or take - it depends on the coverage of your skillet]
1 tsp sea salt [or to taste. I prefer coarse, but that's optional]
1 tbsp fresh herbs [totally optional - basil or 1 tsp fresh rosemary, oregano, thyme...]
Step 1. Heat your skillet and pour in your oil.
Step 2. Immediately add your washed and dried whole tomatoes.
Step 3. Add your salt.
Step 4. Stir or swirl the tomatoes in your skillet. At this point your tomatoes are beginning to boil inside of their skin and getting ready to burst forth with those beautifully sauteed juices. This is good because you get a nicecaramelization on those skins AND the juices as they hit the oil.
Step 5. Take your spoon, spatula or whatever you've decide to use for the task and mash or press out the juices from your tomatoes, reduce heat and let simmer until it's reached your desired consistency. Itshouldn't take more than a few minutes.
Step 6. If you're adding your fresh herbs, now would be the time to add them.
Step 7. Give it a quick stir and you're done.
As always, it's been my pleasure sharing these recipes with you. Until next time...