Rustic Yellow Tomato Sauce

October 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

Several years ago, I had one of the best summers of my life, and especially of my “adult” life. I was leaving NYC after living there for just a year, and was getting ready to settle into Berkeley. But for a few months in-between, I headed to Nevada City, CA to live with my friends, Andrea and Drew.

A little back story: Andrea was my freshman year college roommate, and it was basically friends at first sight. Drew lived just down the hall from us, and became a close friend through all the best college interactions: dorm pranks (in this case, stolen mattresses and ransom notes), extended all-you-can-eat cafeteria meals, late nights of studying, and campus yoga classes. Oh, and did I mention that Andrea and Drew are now married? Together, I think we have lived most of the college clichés you can think of!

Okay, going back to my summer in Nevada City. Drew had just started a small organic farm, and graciously allowed me to come work with him, despite my complete and utter lack any farm-related knowledge or skills. And the rest, as they say, was history.

That summer, I learned a ton about farming. I learned how hard it is, how much planning goes into every crop, and how long the days can be. I also learned how fun it can be to work outside in the dirt with friends.

I learned how much I love to swim in the river after (or in the middle of) a long day on the farm.

I learned that I love Sungold tomatoes more than any other tomatoes, but that I am allergic to tomato pollen. This is inconvenient, because when you harvest tomatoes you can always sneak a few to snack on, but if you are allergic to tomato pollen, your considerate friend Drew gives you different jobs to do on the farm.

That summer, I got to stay in a converted barn that had a full library (with an actual sliding library ladder!). And I got to sleep in the barn loft.

And I learned how to make delicious tomato sauce. When you work on a farm, there are bound to be tomatoes that over-ripen on the vine. These tomatoes can’t be sold at the farmers’ markets, but they always make the best tomato sauce, and Andrea is an expert sauce maker. On more than one occasion, we collected all of the unwanted tomatoes and made gigantic pots of tomato sauce together. These sauce-making sessions were the source of unlimited fun and deliciousness, and still serve as my inspiration every time I decide to make sauce from scratch.

The following recipe follows in this vein. The ingredients are fresh from my garden, but they are the “tomato rejects.” The yellow tomatoes I grew this year were oddly tough, which made them less delicious for raw eating. And, unfortunately, I let a fair number of sungolds over-ripen on the vine, so I tossed those in for good measure.

If you find yourself with over-ripe or less-than delicious yellow and orange tomatoes, put them to use in this sauce. Maybe I’m abnormally excited by the fact that the sauce is yellow, but I really loved it! It is so unexpected to have a tomato sauce that isn’t red!

Bright Yellow Tomato Sauce

Serves 4 with small portions, 2 with large portions


  • 2 lbs yellow and orange cherry tomatoes, larger cherry tomatoes cut in half*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh basil
  • 1/8 cup white or pink wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

*Of course, you can use any cherry tomatoes you like, you will just lose the yellow color if you substitute red tomatoes. Additionally, with cherry tomatoes, you really don’t have to deal with blanching and peeling. The skins are small, and actually add a nice texture to the sauce. However, if you opt for larger, “full-sized” tomatoes, you may want to consider blanching and peeling tomatoes first, in order to obtain a smoother sauce texture.

Heat oil in a medium sized sauce pan. Add onion and garlic, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until onion has begun to soften. Add tomatoes, basil, wine and salt, and stir well to combine ingredients. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 1 hour, 15 minutes, stirring frequently to help break down the tomatoes. You can use the back of a wooden spoon to help break down the tomatoes as they cook.

The longer you cook the sauce, the sweeter it will become, so adjust the cook-time time according to your preferences. I served my pasta sauce over tagliatelle, with parmesan and basil, but of course, serve it over your favorite pasta. Bon Appétit!


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