Saturday, August 25, 2012

Seafood Pasta with Heirloom Tomatoes Fra Diavolo Sauce

I have been reviewing my extensive collection of cookbooks for recipes that can be used with my burgeoning tomato harvest.  I am almost as obsessed with cookbooks as I am with tomatoes, much to Sweet Tomato’s (my wife of many years) consternation about cookbooks piled all over the house and garage.   I share Rosie Tomato’s desire to finally use some of those recipes rather than day dream about what they might have tasted like (if only I had prepared them).  This recipe comes from “The Heirloom Tomato Cookbook”.  This cookbook was originally published in 2006 to promote the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center in Napa Valley.  Despite being a promotion vehicle for Kendall-Jackson, it is a great cookbook with lots of information about heirloom tomatoes – from history, to selection, techniques and of course tomato recipes.  It is one of my favorites.

This recipe (Seafood Pasta with Heirloom Tomatoes Fra Diavolo Sauce) comes from page 84.  “Fra Diavolo” translates in Italian as “Brother Devil” (brother as in monk).  It gets its name from the red pepper flakes included in the ingredients.  There is a story behind my love of hot (really hot) peppers and condiments that I may get to someday.  Suffice it to say that Sweet Tomato does not have the same degree of tolerance for hot peppers as I do.  When I read one teaspoon of red pepper flakes in a recipe, my eyes fool me and I see two or three (well maybe four or five) teaspoons. As a consequence, whenever I use fresh chilies or red pepper flakes in a recipe, I must check with Sweet Tomato first. She is the boss after all and it is a rule she created so she wouldn’t be forced to fix her own dinner because mine was too hot to eat (for her, not for me).

 The dish consists of the following:
4 tablespoons of olive oil, 6 garlic cloves (crushed), 1.5 pounds of heirloom tomatoes (they recommend plum, but any good tasting red heirloom tomato will do), salt, 4 or 5 teaspoons of red pepper flakes (ok, it only calls for 1 teaspoon if you are a wimp), linguine pasta, 8 ounces small shrimp (I used medium shrimp and a lot more than 8 ounces), 8 ounces of bay scallops and 2 tablespoons of flat-leaf parsley. 

If you can’t figure out how the ingredients go together, then you aren’t much of a cook or you don’t have any imagination.  If you really do want the directions, buy the book, or comment on the blog and I will include the cooking directions.  Below are pictures of the dish.  There were actually two versions, one with one teaspoon of red pepper flakes and one with more than that.  It turned out really good and was great with Zinfandel.

This was the hot one.  If you look closely you can just see the fork beginning to melt.

Friday, August 10, 2012

This Is Why I Grow Tomatoes

My wife, Sweet Tomato, made a tomato salad with dinner last night.  The tomatoes, Cory’s Grandpa (orange & yellow), Michael Pollan (green) and Abraham Lincoln (red) were picked from my garden about an hour before dinner.  Sweet Tomato laid down a bed of lettuce and arugula, sliced the tomatoes and arranged them on the plate.  She added green scallions and a drizzle of olive oil.  The result was a simple but incomparable dish that rivals or exceeds anything you can obtain at an expensive restaurant. But wait, it gets better; open a bottle of red wine, cut some crusty bread, and dine in the company of the loveliest girl in the world. 

It doesn’t get much better than this.