When is the best time to enjoy the bright flavor of tomatoes? Anytime! These native Mexican fruits are at their best sun-ripened and just off the vine. For me, out-of-season tomatoes are merely flavor-lacking fruits disguised in a reddish skin.
There are tomato varietals, mostly the smaller grape or cherry type, that deliver somewhat of a tomato punch year ’round, although usually not as sweet as the love object of this post. However, once you bite into a luscious, vine-ripened love apple, its ambrosial flavor will seduce you into lingering momentarily in its simple pleasure. These are moments you’ll never forget. Small wonder that the word tomato is often used as jargon for a beautiful woman or some of her feminine attributes.
Tomatoes, like fresh spring peas that maintain their freshness in a frozen state for months, can be preserved in a canned state even longer. Happy is the summer canner whose larder is full of summer tomatoes put away as sauce, concentrated paste, chopped, whole or juiced.
Shrimps are a year-’round treat as well and pair happily with tomatoes in any of their guises.
I adapted and enhanced this recipe from epicurious.com by including a healthy dollop of homemade tomato paste nicknamed the tomato bomb by its creator, Francis Lam. It’s fresh plum tomatoes crushed and slow-cooked with onion, garlic and olive oil down to a savory-sweet paste. I also added depth by simmering the shrimp shells with a bit of crab and shrimp boil and adding that to the whole.
Fresh Herb Pasta with Creamy Tomato Shrimp Sauce
Adapted from an epicurious.com recipe
- 3-4 tablespoons (45-60 ml) olive oil
- 1 pound (45 g) large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) dried oregano
- ½ (2.5 ml) teaspoon salt
- fresh ground pepper to taste
- ½ cup (125 ml) sweet vermouth (the red one)
- 1 15.5-ounce (44 g) can of diced tomatoes (Muir Glen is excellent)
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) tomato paste, preferably homemade
- ¼ cup (60 ml) reduced shrimp stock made from shrimp shells (optional)
- ¾ cup (177 ml) heavy whipping cream
- ½ pound (22 g) pasta, cooked
- Heat the oil in a heavy 12-inch skillet until medium hot and shimmering.
- Add the shrimp, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, and sauté until the shrimp start becoming opaque, about 2-3 minutes. (Use your common sense here as shrimp become tough if overcooked.)
- Quickly add the vermouth, tomatoes, tomato paste and stock, and stir while scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
- Add the cream and simmer until thickened.
- Remove from heat and pour over freshly cooked pasta.
- I removed the shrimp with a slotted spoon to a bowl while the sauce was cooking just before adding the cream, and added them back just before serving.
- The sauce wasn’t as thick as I wanted so I whisked in some Wondra® flour to thicken it some more.
There is more tomato lore on our Tomato Martini post.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities