And here’s a simple meal. My poor boys are subjected to so many strange and unlikely food combinations. Sometimes they beg for just a simple meal. One of their favorite is pasta with “smooth” tomato sauce. Well! We had an abundance of tomatoes, and perfect weather for a fire in the backyard. We piled tomatoes and red peppers on the grill and left them for a long time, turning them every once in a while, but basically forgetting about them till the fire went out. We peeled them a little, but left some of the charred peel on, and then we cooked them up into a smooth tomato sauce. The boys loved it! And so did we. It’s ridiculously adaptable. You could add any herbs you like, or olives and capers, or red wine, or shallots or onions, or any other vegetable you have lying around, or cheese. Anything, really! This would make a nice soup, as well, if you add some cream or broth.
Here are five different versions of Sunny Side of the Street!!
The quantities will depend on the amount of tomatoes and peppers you have. This is a good one to make lots of, and freeze for a day in winter when fresh tomatoes are just a fond memory. So act proportionately, and taste as you go.
5 or 6 tomatoes – any kind will do.
2 or 3 red peppers
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 t rosemary
1 t thyme
1 t smoked paprika
1 T butter
1 t balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
sugar to taste (optional)
Cut the tops off the tomatoes and give them a gentle squeeze if they’re very seedy. Place them right on the grill, and place the peppers next to them. Grill, turning every once in a while, till the skins are blackened and the tomatoes are soft. Wrap them in foil, and leave them to cool till you can handle them. Peel off as much as the skin as will come easily. Some charred bits won’t hurt anything!) Remove the seeds from the peppers. Roughly chop everything.
In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic, thyme and rosemary. Cook for a minute or two, then add all of the tomatoes and peppers. Stir to coat with oil and spices. Add the paprika. Depending on the juiciness of your tomatoes, you can add a splash of water.
Bring everything to a boil, reduce heat and simmer till the tomatoes are soft and the flavors are blended – ten minutes, maybe.
Add the butter and balsamic, salt and pepper. Taste the broth – if it’s too bitter (it will depend on the sweetness of your tomatoes) add a teaspoon or so of sugar.
Purée till smooth, and use any way you’d use tomato sauce. We ate ours with penne.