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Too many tomatoes? Make pasta sauces.

Three easy recipes capture the full flavor of ripe tomatoes

TOMATO SEASON IS peaking, with end-of-summer heat quickly ripening fruit still on the vine. If you have a bumper crop of homegrown tomatoes or want to take advantage of good-quality, good-value tomatoes from the market, one of the best ways to use them in quantity is for pasta sauces.

Here we offer three distinctly different recipes designed to accentuate different attributes of the tomato. Each sauce will accommodate any ripe tomato--red, yellow, or green (yes, some varieties are green when ripe, as you can see above), big or small.

For best flavor, start sauces with fully ripe tomatoes; they should feel slightly soft, but not squishy, when gently pressed. If they have bruised spots or splits, trim generously around damaged areas. If tomatoes need to ripen, let them stand at room temperature out of direct sunlight for several days. Enclosed in a paper bag, they ripen faster.

The first recipe is for a big batch of a classic, slow-simmered spaghetti sauce. Its rich flavor base combines onions, carrots, garlic, herbs, and chilies. You can use the sauce as soon as it's cooked, or freeze some in convenient-size portions.

By contrast, the next sauce comes together in a flash. You stir-fry tomato chunks with chili oil just until the mixture is hot, add basil, then mix with hot cooked pasta--in any shape you like.

The last sauce is roasted. It develops a complex, smoky-sweet intensity and thick consistency that mingles well with either a plain pasta or a filled one like ravioli.

Be sure to accompany these pasta and sauce combinations with grated or shredded parmesan cheese; the cheese helps the sauce to cling.

All-purpose Spaghetti Sauce

Use this sauce as is, or, for variety, convert it to a meat sauce. To make a meat sauce, brown ground meat (beef, pork, veal, lamb, chicken, or turkey; allow 1/2 to 1 lb. meat for each quart of sauce), then add the sauce and simmer 10 to 15 minutes to blend flavors. Allow 3/4 to 1 cup sauce for each cup of hot cooked pasta, and serve with grated parmesan cheese.

4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

2 large (about 1 1/4 lb. total) onions, finely chopped

2 large (about 3/4 lb. total) carrots, finely chopped

3/4 cup regular-strength chicken broth

10 pounds (about 6 qt.) ripe tomatoes, stems removed, peeled (if desired), rinsed, cored, and chopped

1 1/4 cups balsamic or red wine vinegar

1 cup minced parsley

1 cup minced fresh or 1/4 cup crumbled dried basil leaves

3 tablespoons minced fresh or 1 tablespoon crumbled dried oregano leaves

1 tablespoon crushed dried hot red chilies


In an 8- to 10-quart pan over high heat, combine garlic, onions, carrots, and 1/4 cup broth. Stir occasionally until liquid evaporates and vegetables start to brown and stick, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir browned bits free with 1/4 cup broth; boil until liquid evaporates and vegetables stick; stir occasionally. Repeat step using another 1/4 cup broth.

Add tomatoes, vinegar, parsley, basil, oregano, and chilies. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, until sauce is reduced to 9 to 10 cups, about 1 hour and 10 minutes; stir occasionally. Use sauce hot, seasoned to taste with salt. (If you did not peel tomatoes and want a smoother sauce, whirl mixture in a blender until pureed.)

To store, let sauce cool, package airtight, and chill up to 5 days or freeze in easy-to-use amounts up to 1 year. Makes 2 to 2 1/4 quarts.

Per 1 cup: 156 cal. (12 percent from fat); 5.8 g protein; 2 g fat (0.3 g sat.); 35 g carbo.; 65 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Stir-fry Tomato Sauce

Make this simple sauce with any variety or size of ripe tomato.

2 pounds ripe tomatoes, rinsed and stems removed

1 large (about 1/2-lb.) onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

About 2 tablespoons hot chili oil (or olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried hot red chilies)

3/4 pound dried linguine or fettuccine

2 cups (about 2 oz. total) firmly packed fresh basil leaves, slivered

1 to 2 cups (1/4 to 1/2 lb.) shredded or grated parmesan cheese

Basil sprigs (optional)


Core regular tomatoes; if a less juicy sauce is desired, cut tomatoes in half crosswise and squeeze out and discard seeds. Coarsely chop regular or cherry tomatoes. You should have 4 to 6 cups (varies with size of tomato pieces).

In 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, combine onion, garlic, and 2 tablespoons chili oil; stir often until onion is golden, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 3 quarts water to boiling in a covered 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat. Add pasta and cook, uncovered, until tender to bite, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain pasta well; pour into a wide serving bowl.

As pasta cooks, add tomatoes to onion; turn heat to high and stir just until tomatoes are hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in slivered basil, and pour sauce over pasta. Sprinkle with 1/2 to 1 cup cheese; mix and garnish with basil sprigs. Season pasta with more chili oil, cheese, and salt to taste. Serves 4 to 6.--Richard Eastes, Long Beach, California

Per serving: 385 cal. (26 percent from fat); 17 g protein; 11 g fat (3.9 g sat.); 57 g carbo.; 323 mg sodium; 13 mg chol.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

6 pounds (about 4 qt.) ripe tomatoes, stemmed, rinsed, cored, and cut into large chunks

6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

3 large (about 2 lb. total) onions, chopped

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 cup regular-strength beef broth

3/4 pound dried spaghetti or cappellini

1 to 2 cups (1/4 to 1/2 lb.) shredded or grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

Combine tomatoes, garlic, and onions in an 11- by 17-inch roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, in a 450 |degrees~ oven until liquid evaporates and vegetables begin to stick and brown around edge of pan, about 1 3/4 hours; stir often. Add wine and 1/2 cup broth; stir to scrape browned bits free. Bake until vegetables at edge of pan brown again, 15 to 20 minutes; stir free with remaining broth. Keep warm, or, if making ahead, cool, cover, and chill up to 3 days; reheat to use.

Bring about 3 quarts water to boiling in a covered 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat. Add pasta and cook, uncovered, until tender to bite, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain pasta well; pour into a wide serving bowl, top with sauce, and sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Mix pasta and serve; add cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Serves 5 or 6.

Per serving: 450 cal. (15 percent from fat); 20 g protein; 7.4 g fat (3.5 g sat.); 77 g carbo.; 351 mg sodium; 13 mg chol.
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Title Annotation:recipes
Author:Hale, Christine Weber
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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