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Skip the pots and pans for a summer pasta

I am enjoying my current issue of the Cooking Club of America's summer magazine issue, and I found something lovely to pass along. Cooking marinara sauce produces a classic, but in the summer it might be too hot to contemplate a bubbling pot in the kitchen. This is the time to pull out a recipe for fresh tomato sauce. The best tomatoes for this sauce are Italian plum-type tomatoes that are available in most Tucson supermarkets right now.

Preparing this sauce without heat makes it even more important to peel and seed the tomatoes, though. You will need 2-1/2 pounds of tomatoes, which means several, and to remove the skins you need a saucepan of boiling water. Cut an X on the bottom end of each tomato and drop them into the boiling water one at a time.

If you have a larger soup pot and has a basket that fits inside it, you can do this with a few tomatoes at a time, immersing them and then removing them to slip off the skins. A few seconds will not really heat the tomato, and all you have to do is note when the cut on the bottom begins to peel away.

After all the tomatoes are peeled, you seed them by cutting them across and squeezing out the seeds and the gel they live in. Then you are ready to chop them coarsely and get on with your recipe.



2-1/2 pounds fresh plum-style tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 small onion, chopped roughly
1 cup lightly-packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
(Dash of crushed red pepper, optional)

8 ounces (1 package) angel-hair pasta

(1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional)

Cook the pasta according to manufacturer's instructions, drain and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, combine the tomatoes, onion, basil leaves, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Use your immersion blender to create a sauce. When the sauce is chunky but the ingredients are combined, transfer the hot cooked pasta to a serving dish.

Pour the sauce over the pasta, toss and sprinkle with cheese and/or parsley.

If you go with the crushed red pepper flakes, put them into the sauce just before you blend everything.

It takes some time to peel and seed the tomatoes, so you might want to do that the night before or earlier in the day, so that you can make the sauce while the pasta is cooking and get the whole meal on the table quickly.

If you have to keep the cooked pasta hot for a few minutes, toss it with a Tablespoon of EVOO so that it will not get sticky.

Red wine, crusty bread and a light dessert will round out this dish. It capitalizes on all the qualities of summer produce--you can even use yellow tomatoes or heirlooms if you like them.

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