How easy it is to be saddened by “the end” of so many things—I don’t mean the planet despite the insanity of politics of late even if it it is an important topic to discuss—but the end of things like summer and tomatoes. We’ve clearly demonstrated we don’t really want to warm the world up any more than we already have—so summer must end—and anyone who has purchased tomatoes in the dead of winter knows they are completely useless fabrications of reality. So the end is near…for both summer and tomatoes.
That said here in Vermont we celebrate the end of summer with a special 5th season: fall foliage. It is a short-lived and miraculous time. This year is different for a couple reasons. First, no tour buses! Typically three million “leaf peepers” come to Vermont with hopes of seeing foliage, many on buses glued to the windows exclaiming “oh look” and “wow.” Second, this drought—the most significant I can remember in years—has the colors coming on early and the leaves ready to drop with tonight’s predicted rain. But today, today is glorious! And when the leaves are gone, as they will be soon, we all talk about how glorious it was, and then think about the wonders of winter.
Tomatoes? A hard frost last week has proven once again that tomatoes are not built to grow in Vermont all year long. Even my one protected vine of sungold tomatoes has now slowed simply for lack of sunlight. Thanks for my friends at the Montpelier Farmers Market who grow in large hoop houses, I will still have a few more weeks of eating two or three or more tomatoes every day but even that will soon end. To celebrate the glory of tomato season, I made one final dish of my all time tomato favorite, “Bomb Pasta.” The recipe is flexible but goes something like this:
• use a dozen or so large tomatoes, preferably heirloom, that at dead ripe. If necessary, buy them a few days ahead and let them sit on the counter
• drop the tomatoes in boiling water and then transfer to cold water and slip the skins off. Cut them in half (on the equator) and get out as many seeds as is simple; chop them coarsely and put them in a strainer to begin draining; the juice is fabulous for use elsewhere!
• finely chop a lot of garlic (I use 5 or 6 big cloves but my wife likes less) and set aside
• chop a bunch of herbs, mainly lots of fresh basil, parsley, oregano. You want to end up with maybe 2 cups chopped.
• grate 2-3 cups of parmesan cheese
• cook the pasta—I like thin spaghetti but you can use other—in salted water until al dente
• while the pasta is cooking, heat 1-2 cups of olive oil—this needs to be done very carefully—until it begins to smoke
• drain the the pasta and put it in a large bowl; quickly place the tomatoes on top of the hot pasta and the herbs on top of the tomatoes and the garlic as the crowning jewel on the very top.
• now…very carefully and slowly pour the hot oil over the garlic and herbs which will cook noisily—the “bomb!”—and then quickly stir the whole thing together while adding the cheese. Add salt and pepper as needed and serve with a bit more cheese on top. This dish is heavenly and also makes great leftovers…if there are any!
The end of summer is near and Bomb Pasta is a great way to celebrate that fact.
And who can argue with this being the way to end the summer—the Vermont Statehouse golden dome set against a hillside of color!