May 13, 2010

Can we talk about tomatoes?

I'm sure you know this by now, but I love tomatoes. Tomatoes and basil, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, plain tomatoes, tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar, tomato soup, tomatoes in salads, on sandwiches, and of course - tomato sauce. I have posted a few tomato-based recipes on this website (sundried tomato pasta salad, roasted tomato sauce, super fast tomato pasta, tomato-basil soup, pizza sauce), as well as things that contain tomatoes, but aren't necessarily based on tomatoes (like chili). I have tomatoes on the brain because Steve and I built a garden this weekend (I helped! I helped! I ran the screw gun...for a little while.) and I am so excited to plant it. Usually I plant in containers and put them on my deck, but with the new patio furniture/fire pit, there isn't room! So we built a 4 x 16 raised vegetable bed! Yay! Along with tomatoes, I also like to grow basil (surprise!), peppers (bell and jalapeno), onions, peas, lettuce, cilantro, and Steve wants to grow green beans. I will post more about this and show you some pictures later. Today we are talking about tomatoes! I have one bag of frozen tomatoes in my freezer that I need to eat up right away, because soon the farmer's market will have yummy tomatoes available, and then eventually, my tomatoes will be ripe and ready, and I will be freezing this year's I wanted to post a couple more tomato sauce recipes. The first one is a recipe that my friend Heather sent me some time ago, but I never got around to make it. However, it is kinda similar to a recipe I have been making for years - a recipe that was taught to me by my "auntie" Gale when she came to visit me when I lived in North Carolina, and that I have since adapted. Both are easy and yummy. I hope you enjoy! And grow some vegetables - it is delicious and healthy and therapeutic!

Spicy Sausage Linguine in Tomato Cream Sauce (from Heather)
Shallots (I usually just use onion…to taste)
3-4 cloves garlic
Olive oil
1# spicy Italian sausage (or mild sausage will work, but I know you’re not a pansy)
2 cans diced tomatoes (I usually get one with chilies in it)
1 cup heavy whipping cream (half & half will work but it’s not as good)
½ t crushed red pepper
Other spices to taste (it calls for sage, but I never have that)
Parmesan cheese
Sauté shallots and garlic in olive oil until tender.  Add sausage and break apart while cooking.  Once sausage is cooked, add tomatoes with juices.  Add crushed red pepper and other seasoning to taste.  Simmer about 5 minutes.  Add cream.  Simmer another 5 minutes until thickens.  Server over linguine and top with parmesan cheese.  Delicious!

Do you like how she confirms that I am not a pansy?! Thank you Heather!!! I most definitely would put spicy Italian sausage in my pasta. The second recipe is similar...and I guess it could be called Spicy Sausage Penne in Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce! When I first started making this, I used a store bought jar of roasted red pepper tomato sauce (like Emeril's)...that is perfectly acceptable. You could also use canned diced tomatoes instead of fresh (like the recipe above). However, if you have tomatoes to use up or need to control the sodium level (or just like to cook from scratch), here is the homemade-sauce version. Thanks Gale!

Spicy Sausage Penne in Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce

1 large red pepper, roasted under the broiler or on the grill, peeled and chopped
2 lbs of ripe tomatoes (preferably roma), chopped
1 lb bulk spicy Italian sausage
1 handful of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped or julienned  (optional)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 - 4 cloves of garlic, minced
Olive Oil
Crumbled goat cheese (or if you don't like goat cheese, sub parmesan...I've even subbed feta before)
fresh or dried basil, oregano, thyme
crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, sugar
penne pasta, cooked according to package directions

Brown sausage, remove from pan with slotted spatula, set aside. Saute onion and garlic in sausage drippings (add olive oil if necessary) until tender. Add tomatoes, red pepper, and herbs. Cook until the tomatoes of broken down. If desired, use an immersion blender to puree...otherwise just keep breaking up large chunks with back of a wooden spoon. Check seasonings...add sun-dried tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar, crushed red pepper, and if necessary - a teaspoon or two of red wine vinegar. When the sauce is to your taste, toss in cooked sausage, cooked penne, and goat cheese. Toss to combine and enjoy!


  1. You're adorable! And very much in love with tomatoes, I see. :) Maybe we are separated at birth... and we even have significant others named Steve. I followed the link to the pasta salad you recommended. It does look fantastic. I really don't like kalamata olives, though. Do you think it would ruin it if I left them out?

    I planted some tomato plants, too... three heirlooms! Are we TK friends? If not, add me, will you? :)

  2. Hi Natalie! I will definitely add you on TK...but I must warn you, I haven't posted any recipes on my profile yet! I just haven't had the time!!! But I will work on it :)
    I don't think leaving the kalamata's out would ruin you like black olives? You could sub them in for a milder flavor...otherwise I'm sure it would be fine - there is still sun-dried tomatoes and basil in there!!! :)

  3. AnonymousMay 13, 2010

    Weird...I just printed out Heather's recipe today so I could make this weekend. YUM! I guess that isn't weird, great minds think alike. teehee.

    ps. did I tell you I already have tomato's? I cheated and bought starters 2 weeks ago.