Sometimes, as I stare out from my car window at the grey winter light bathing the salt covered cars that are inching along the ice spattered roads, I find myself madly craving food with bright colors. In particular, a juicy, succulent and deeply ugly heirloom tomato, spattering seeds in my face as I cut into it.
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Not going to happen. Not now anyway.
But for those who want a taste of summer’s pleasures, and to make what I can officially proclaim the fastest delicious week night meal I have found yet on the site, check out Cold Sauce. This is a recipe that takes about 5 minutes of planning, less time in prep and no stove time.
The only waiting you will do with this recipe is to pause overnight, while it transforms itself from canned tomatoes to garlic-infused-passion-in-a-bowl in your fridge. This is way shorter than waiting for, say, a baby, and cold sauce will not grow into a person who calls you “bipolar” for refusing to purchase a large box of Junior Mints at the movies.
If you read the recipe, you will see it is scaled for a large crowd. I took it down by thirds (the recipe below has been divided accordingly, so use it as is), stopping only at the garlic instruction to ponder my next move. Fortunately, drbabs got there before me, and noted that she smashed two cloves and let them sit in the sauce overnight, then removed them in their entirety the next day. I did a modified version of this: I smashed two large cloves, then minced a very small one, which I left in when I took the sauce out on day two. I opted for 1/8 cup of my very best olive oil, which worked perfectly.
I suggest you take the sauce out about 30 minutes before serving it over hot pasta, which will ensure that it does not chill your noodles, but rather embraces them with the taste of July. Here is what the incipient pescetarian said: “Please make this for me every day.” It’s the exuberance of an 11-year-old, but I know what she means.
Use a food processor to finely chop the basil or it can be done by hand. In a large bowl empty the canned tomatoes, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix these ingredients together and refrigerate overnight. When you're ready to use remove from the refrigerator and add oil, stir well. In the meantime, cook the pasta al dente, drain and add the sauce. The hot pasta will warm the cold sauce. No cheese please...it's not needed.
By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).