It’s been a hot summer. H-O-T hot. It’s been hot here in Chicago, on sweaty bike rides and walks; hot in Raleigh, North Carolina, by the pool and at farmers markets; hot in Ohio; hot in Nashville; hot in St. Louis; hot everywhere I’ve gone. I’ve sweated through clothes and on furniture, felt skin stick to leather seats in my car, walked into buildings for the sole purpose of feeling their air-conditioning, started keeping deodorant in my purse so I can apply it multiple times a day.
You could say I’m experiencing summer this year, really experiencing it, and listen: it’s not always comfortable.
After winter, after snow, after giant puffy parkas and endless weeks of boots and tights, after days with little daylight, after months with little fresh air and even now, sometimes after sitting at a computer all day long, I find so much joy in stepping out into the sun, putting my hands in the dirt, smelling the sweet air, feeling the heat on my back. I guess what I’m saying is, in a choice between January and July, I still choose summer. Hands down.
Because summer means sweat, sure, but it also means sun! and tank tops! and beautiful flowers! and warm, fresh air! and the opportunity to walk out to your garden, reach out your hand and pull armfuls of vibrant red tomatoes, fistfuls of fresh rosemary and basil, a green pepper grown right in your own soil.
Summer means coming back into the kitchen with those things and, not even using a recipe, just what you have on hand and what you’ve grown, making a tomato cream sauce, one that floods the air with butter, onions, garlic, white wine, the smell of fresh tomato lingering on your fingers while you cook.
Summer means taking that homemade sauce, filled with your own tomatoes, your own basil, your own rosemary, and pouring it over your own homemade ravioli, the ones you’d frozen a few weeks back.
And it means eating a big plateful of it all, of eating what feels like pure summer, while you look at the window and in the sunshine, watch the green branches blow in the breeze.
Fresh-from-the-Garden Tomato Cream Sauce
So I haven’t announced this officially or anything, but one of my new big goals is to cook less with recipes and more with bravery. I like to think of this sauce as a sign of things to come.
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup white wine
4 big tomatoes, diced (or about 14 ounces)
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper, to taste
Melt butter in skillet, add ½ cup onions and cook until soft. Add basil, rosemary and ½ cup white; boil. Salt and pepper if you like. Cover and reduce heat for 20 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and cream; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Puree with immersion blender (this is easiest if you transport the soup to a taller, skinnier container). Salt and pepper to taste. Very nice atop homemade pasta.