Apr 192015

Fresh grape tomato sauce

I seem to be trying to rush summer’s arrival. With each trip to the grocery store or farmer’s market, I find myself hopefully scanning for the first tomatoes and peaches of the season, even though I know it’s too early. My consolation prize a few days ago was two pints of grape tomatoes, remembering this quick and easy sauce as a solution for dinner. Cherry tomatoes work just as well, and it’s also nice with those sweet little yellow grape and cherry tomatoes.

The idea is to just “melt” the tomatoes into a pool of garlicky oil, so that they soften a bit without breaking down. A generous hit of thyme leaves adds another layer of pretty freshness. If serving it over pasta, a bit of parmesan or fresh goat cheese is a nice addition. Parmesan takes it very classic Italian, while the chevre softens into the warm pasta and makes the flavors of the dish feel sort of Provencal. The sauce also adds a tasty finishing touch to grilled fish, or mix it into sauteed shrimp and serve alongside your favorite grain.

Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc

This is one of those acid-with-acid pairings for me. I like a crisp, bright white wine with enough acidity to stand up to (i.e., not taste flabby by comparison) the tomatoes. With pasta and parmesan added, I tend to reach for Pinot Grigio. But the other night, I was inexplicably out of parmesan (something that almost never happens), so I went with goat cheese instead and paired it with a Sauvignon Blanc.

And since Spring is a great time for Sauvignon Blancs, here is a roundup of several I’ve enjoyed lately:

Silverado 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley Miller Ranch ($22). Very nice, with pretty lemon zest accenting an array of smooth citrus and light herbal notes, with a lingering, evolving finish. Easy to like and versatile with food.

Edna Valley Vineyard 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Edna Valley ($15). Grapefruit and herbal notes accent crisp apple and lemon and light cream flavors, picking up distinct dill notes through the finish. Light on the palate and ready to drink now.

Ouled Thaleb 2012 Sauvignon Blanc Zenata (Morocco) Médallion ($16). Aromatic ripe peach, citrus and tropical melon flavors are laced with white floral notes. Smooth on the palate, with a bright, fresh finish. Ready to drink now.

William Hill 2013 Sauvignon Blanc North Coast ($17). Lemon-lime aromas and flavors accent smooth tropical melon, with pineapple coming through on the finish, along with fresh-cut grass. Ready to drink now.

Matanzas Creek 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County ($22). Grapefruit aromas and flavors mingle with an array of juicy citrus and fresh herbal notes. Finishes smooth and refreshing. Ready to drink now.

Rodney Strong 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Northern Sonoma Charlotte’s Home ($17). Loads of juicy, aromatic pineapple and tangerine are the refreshing stars here, with accents of lemon verbena through the lively finish. Ready to drink now.

Recipe: Grape Tomato & Garlic Sauce

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced crosswise
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved lenthwise
Leaves from 8 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
grated Parmigiano Reggiano or crumbled fresh goat cheese/chevre (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, taking care to not let garlic brown. Add tomatoes, thyme leaves, salt and pepper and continue to cook over low heat until tomatoes just begin to melt into sauce, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

If serving with pasta, just top warm pasta with spoonfuls of sauce and then garnish each serving with whichever cheese you’re using. (I used perciatelli and then big crumbles of goat cheese.)

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