Rescued Tomatoes: Fresh Tomato Sauce with Lemon

When I was younger I didn’t like tomatoes, except in the most processed forms (pasta sauce, pizza etc).  Since then I’ve grown to really enjoy tomatoes, and like cooking with them.  Sadly, I rarely am afforded the opportunity as my best friend has a tomato-intolerance.  Since she can’t eat them, we don’t keep them around and my tomato-intake is greatly diminished.  (I have considered ending our friendship over this, but she puts up with my eggplant-intolerance, so I guess I can’t).

While it’s a waste to buy fresh tomatoes when you’re living (and cooking) with someone who can’t eat them, on occasion tomatoes will fall into your lap.  A friends roommate was going to throw these tomatoes away!  There is nothing wrong with them – they’re a bit soft, but they are un-bruised and mold-free.

So I liberated the tomatoes.  Truth be told, they had actually already been consigned to the garbage – but they were at the top and in a box!  I’m a strong believer in the five second rule, still, I’m not sure if I would have taken those tomatoes a year ago.  Now however, after hiking the Appalachian Trail where food was precious, and none was wasted (even if it fell on the ground),  I didn’t even consider not eating these tomatoes.

I was planning on making something completely different with these, but I found that I was short on ingredients, and felt no need to go shopping for a simple lunch.  I combined the tomatoes with garlic, some of the last basil from our garden  (blue basil, you can eat the flowers!) and lemon zest to add a little more depth of flavor.  Served over pasta it makes a quick, satisfying lunch.

So, I just made this for myself for lunch, but it could easily be expanded to feed more people.

Since this isn’t a saucy sauce, it’s much better with a small shaped pasta.  Fun shapes with crazy names are demonstrably more delicious.

I’ve recently started cooking pasta in heavily salted water – a tablespoon or so in a pot, enough so that the water tastes salty – and it makes for much tastier pasta. Unless you’re really concerned about your salt-intake, use more salt in your pasta water; you drain most of it off anyway, and it will bring out the flavor. 


3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh basil
Zest of 1 lemon
Olive oil

4 oz small pasta (I used Cellentani)
Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a small pan over medium heat, add the minced garlic and cook gently until fragrant and lightly browned.  Add the tomatoes and cook very briefly – you just want them to get warm and begin releasing juices – and remove from heat.  Stir in the lemon zest and basil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
Dish up the pasta and pour the sauce on top.  The sauce will be juicy, sop it up with some nice bread.
Serves 2

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