September Fresh Tomato Sauce

Anyone else feel that yesterday it was summer but the word September changes everything?

It’s hot and muggy. The hottest summer on record around here. And yet all of a sudden turning the page in the calendar makes me feel as if the season is over.

When I hear “September” I think back-to-school. I remember being a kid and buying new black and white notebooks and loving the feeling of writing on the thick right hand side. I hope I liked my teacher. I got new shoes. Thick sweaters that I wouldn’t wear for months.

When I hear “September” I know the food is about to change too. Purple prune plums for pie and poaching rather than the hard, sour red ones that refresh so well on a hot day. Tomatoes past their prime for eating, but perfect for sauce. The last of summer’s green tomatoes firm and bright and ready for frying. Huge zucchini, the last remnants of someone’s garden. My basil and mint are starting to decline. The dill has withered. The rosemary has seen better days.

September means it’s time to get the best of late summer produce and use up what’s left of my herbs. I just got back from our local Farmer’s Market with a load of stuff. After I finish this note the first thing I’m going to cook is tomato sauce, eat some with dinner and pack the rest into the freezer to keep summer alive later.

September Fresh Tomato Sauce

2 pounds tomatoes

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, peeled and chopped

1 large clove garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the tomatoes, cook for 20 seconds, then drain the tomatoes under cold water. Pierce the tomatoes near the stem end with the tip of a small, sharp knife, then peel back to remove the skin. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise and squeeze each half to remove the seeds. Chop the tomatoes and set them aside. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and basil and sprinkle the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-30 minutes or until it reaches the desired texture. Makes enough for one pound of pasta.

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