It's the last day of summer and I can't get that great Earth, Wind & Fire song "September" out of my head. You know the one:
It's also the time of year when everyone starts thinking about fall vegetables — butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, potatoes of every kind — but it can also be a great time to scoop up end-of-season tomatoes, sometimes at a big discount. These aren't always the prettiest tomatoes; in fact, sometimes, they can be downright ugly, but I love an ugly tomato. Looking perfect doesn't always guarantee that something will be the best.
So head to the farmers market this weekend and stock up on the ugliest tomatoes you can find, then turn them into an easy, delicious weeknight dish. You can chop them up and toss them into the slow cooker to make a beautiful tomato sauce that you can freeze to use another time. You can throw the same chopped tomatoes on a sheet pan instead and roast them in the oven to bring out their intense sweetness, a perfect topping for homemade pizza. Or you can make this fast Marinated Tomato Fettuccine that I cooked up on "GMA Day" earlier this week — then turn the tomato water left over from the marinated tomatoes into a beautiful vinaigrette, which you can use for a traditional salad as I did on "GMA Day" or to toss with these gorgeous grilled vegetables. Embrace the ugly and taste the last fleeting moments of summer!
FETTUCCINE TOSSED WITH MARINATED FRESH TOMATOES & TOMATO WATER VINAIGRETTE
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, grated on microplane
1 shallot, finely diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon chile flakes
3-4 leaves fresh basil, torn
8 ounces fettuccine, spaghetti or pasta of your choice (cooked according to the package instructions)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
Garnish: parmesan cheese and fresh basil
Tomato Water Vinaigrette
¼ cup liquid from diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt, if necessary
Freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, grated garlic, shallot, salt, chile flakes and basil. Pour the tomatoes into a colander or sieve and set over a large bowl to drain. Allow to drain at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Pour the drained liquid into a pint size jar. Add all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Shake, adjust seasoning, if necessary, and set aside.
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions in salted water. Put the drained tomato mixture and butter into a large bowl. Drain the pasta and pour the hot pasta into the bowl over the tomatoes. Toss to mix. Serve immediately and garnish with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Serve with a salad on the side tossed with the tomato water vinaigrette, or save for later.