Seasonality is a funny thing. Once the air gets a little cooler people automatically are in “fall mode.” We whip out of our scarves, put on some sweaters and start drinking pumpkin spice lattes immediately.
(Just to be clear, I am not apart of the pumpkin spice latte fan club but I will order a chai latte here and there during the fall season. The cinnamon just tastes so much better when the leaves change colors.)
Going back to my original thought, seasonality is funny because nature does not work as we do. Yes, the air is cooler but the tomato plants are still producing. I can still get cucumbers at the farmer’s market. At the same time, there are huge shipments of the season’s first pick of apples. There is definitely a crossover of seasons happening right now. It’s similar to a woman wearing shorts and Ugg boots. Can’t let go of summer but ready to put on those furry boots.
So this dish is inspired by the end of summer (heirloom tomatoes) and the beginning of fall (braising), in one beautiful dish.
I made another trip to the farmer’s market and hauled back 10 pounds of heirloom tomatoes with me. I am in serious canning mode and wanted to preserve the sweet taste of heirloom tomatoes to be enjoyed all winter long.
I actually made a triple batch of the recipe of below and it yielded about 3 quarts of tomato sauce. I will be the first one to admit it is a total pain in the ass. It’s messy. It’s time consuming. However, the payoff is 100% worth it. When there’s a polar vortex outside you will be beyond happy to have a taste of sunshine and sweetness. The tomatoes we are able to get in the winter are tasteless, hard and soulless. These heirloom tomatoes will brighten your day and revive your taste buds.
To make the sauce you first need to blanch all tomatoes. You want to cut the core first and then cut a small “X” on the bottom of the tomatoes. In batches, drop the tomatoes in boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes until the skins start to peel away. You can shock them in ice water which will cool them down and make it easier to peel the skins. From there, you will make a very simple and basic tomato sauce.
You don’t need any crazy ingredients or cooking methods for this. It’s pure deliciousness. Tomatoes, onion, garlic, thyme, basil and bay leaf. And super delicious olive oil…very important!
You could braise any protein in this sauce. Halibut lends itself really well because it’s thick, meaty and flaky. It works perfectly with the acidity and sweetness of the tomatoes. You could also use chicken, pork tenderloin, sea bass and salmon.
- 4 large heirloom tomatoes, blanched, peeled, roughly chopped
- 1.5 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 medium, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 5 sprigs of thyme
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1.5# halibut, skin-off cut into 4 portions
- 4 tbsp basil, torn or roughly chopped
- First cut the core out of the tomatoes
- Then make s small "X" on the bottom of the tomato with a pairing knife
- Drop tomatoes in boiling water to blanch for about 1-2 minutes
- When the skin starts to peel away, remove tomatoes and place into ice water to "shock"
- Peel the tomatoes when they are cool enough to handle
- Roughly chop the tomatoes saving the juices in a bowl
- Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and add olive oil
- Add onions and soften for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Next add the sliced garlic and crushed red pepper flakes
- Cook for another 5-7 minutes until garlic soft and fragerent
- Add the chopped tomatoes, thyme and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper.
- Bring up to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.
- After about 20 minutes grab a potato masher and "crush" the tomatoes until they break down into smaller pieces. Continute cooking for another 15-20 minutes.
- In a separte saute pan, add ½ tbsp of olive oil over high heat.
- Season halibut with salt and pepper.
- Sear halibut flesh side down for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Then flip halibut over on, skin side down.
- Then add tomato sauce to pan with halibut. Allow the halibut and tomato sauce to simmer together for 5 minutes or until halibut is cooked through and sauce is thickened.
- Finish with torn pieces of basil.