Saturday, October 9, 2010

Our "Harvest" + Creamy Tomato Fennel Pasta

Pin It When we planted tomatoes a few months ago, I had fantasies of making awesome sauces and chutney from plump, sweet tomatoes that we grew ourselves. Or that I would can them and enjoy delicious tomatoes year round. Or that I would make my own ketchup or barbeque sauce for family and friends. Or all of the above. I just imagined baskets and baskets and sweet tomatoes, so much so that we'd joke about opening our own farm stand. Basically, I hoped to be a pig-in-shit happy, except with tomatoes. Instead, we got this --

This is truly pathetic. In fact, perhaps one of the most pathetic in the history of harvests. Thank goodness we have day jobs that enable us to actually buy food instead of relying on our "farming" skills to feed ourselves. I blame the poor result in part on the weird weather pattern this year. We hardly had much of a summer at all, then it got ridiculously hot for two weeks in September and now the temperature has plummeted to the 50s and 60s. Also, we planted way too late into the season. There are still a few that may ripen over the next week or so, but the plants are slowly dying and we still have a lot of green tomatoes that may never ripen.

Well, at least we can get something out of this, right? (besides a cautionary tale of "what not to do next year.") I made this delicious pasta dish to showcase the freshness of these tomatoes. Unfortunately, I had to supplement our "harvest" with store-bought and canned tomatoes. Big sigh.

For this creamy tomato and fennel pasta, you'll need:
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of butter or dairy-free butter substitute (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced
  • 5 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 16-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1/4 cup of cream, half-and-half, milk or soy milk (I used unflavored, unsweetened soy milk)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 pound of dried pasta, cooked
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet, saute diced onion in olive oil over medium heat until softened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add diced fennel and stir to combine. Add white wine and lemon juice and allow liquid to reduce to half. After the liquid has reduced, add fresh tomatoes and canned tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat to medium high and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft. Stir frequently. Stir in cream/milk/soy milk. The sauce should be a nice bright pink color. Cook for another minute or so. Just prior to adding pasta, stir in butter/butter substitute. Toss with pasta and serve.

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