In the shortest days of winter, I crave the freshest produce. Forget sweets or chips—I yearn for cherry tomatoes, raspberries, and other garden goodies. Fortunately, bite-sized bursts of flavor are so simple to save for winter, you’ll wonder why you’ve never done so. Consider cherry tomatoes. At the peak of their season, when they’re so plentiful you’re thinking of giving them away, you instead spend a few minutes packing the extras into freezer bags. Then, in winter, when you’ve had a long day and need a quick meal, you open the freezer, pull out a bag, and dump the frozen contents into the pan. By the time you’ve poured yourself a glass of wine, boiled water, and cooked your favorite shape of pasta, you have an unbeatable sauce ready to serve. —Twice as Tasty
Set a pot of water to boil for the pasta, cooking it according to package directions.
Empty the bag of frozen cherry tomatoes into a large, heavy skillet and turn to medium heat. Let the tomatoes defrost for about 10 minutes, until they pop their skins and release most of their juices.
Strain out the tomato solids, letting the juice drain into a bowl.
Melt the butter in the empty skillet, and then add the garlic; cook, stirring, about 1 minute, until the garlic is lightly browned.
Return the tomato juice to the pan and bring to a boil. Cook over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, or until the juice is reduced to a thin layer of liquid in the bottom of the pan.
Reduce the heat to low; stir in the balsamic vinegar, tomato solids, herb blend, salt, and pepper. Once the sauce bubbles slightly, turn off the heat and add the chives, if using.
Serve over pasta, topping with cheese.
You can create an Italian Seasoning Blend from dried herbs: I like to use 1-1/2 tablespoons each dried basil and oregano, 1 tablespoon dried parsley, and 1-1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary. Or you can add a commercial blend or individual dried herbs to taste.
This recipe features frozen cherry tomatoes, but it can also be made in season. Fresh tomatoes will pop in less time, so it’s best to drop the pasta into the water first. You can use up to three times as many fresh herbs as dried.