Don’t know about you, but I’m still deep in what I like to call Tomato Bliss. Enjoy it while it lasts because it comes but once a year: fresh-picked tomatoes all day, every day. It seems to commence the first week of August and proceeds all the way to the first hard frost. I wait all year for its sweet juice to drip down my unshaven chin. This year’s crop includes pretty little Yellow Pear Heirloom Cherries, dusky-pink Native American Cherokee Purple, extra-large Mortgage Lifter from West Virginia, and the prolific Mr. Stripey, a good-sized yellow striped heirloom with radiating lines of crimson from the stem. All of them go into a single pot. My beloved apple-green Le Creuset Dutch oven, but any large oven-safe saucepan will do. Cut every last one of your ripest tomatoes into reasonable pieces and add them to a pot that’s been prepared with a generous amount of good olive oil. You want a depth of at least an inch or two of tomato bliss. Now add four fresh bay leaves. I’ve been pillaging the healthy Proven Winners’ Sicilian Sunshine Sweet Bay Laurel that’s still thriving, despite a season of intense drought, in a container in my front yard. Add three smushed cloves of garlic and a healthy dose of kosher salt. Place the whole thing uncovered in a 375° oven for an hour, stirring and mashing up the goodness every once in a while. This roasted tomato sauce becomes a fragrant and downright delicious caramelized nectar that’s the very essence of tomato goodness. Toss it with pasta. Use it to smother grilled fish or chicken. Sop it up with crusty bread. Add cream and puree it into a decadent soup. Trust me. It’s that easy, go ahead. Put that pile of tomatoes to work and join me in my tomato bliss.
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