Tomato-Basil Spooning Sauce


Photo by Michael Piazza

There’s no easier appetizer in the summertime kitchen: Simply tear apart the ripest heirloom tomatoes you can find, squeezing them with your hands until you’ve made a sloppy sauce; season heartily with your best olive oil, salt and pepper and stir in a generous handful of fresh basil. Spoon the finished sauce over slices of milky-fresh, firm mozzarella or a soupy platter of torn-up burrata with slivers of grilled Iggy’s bread for scooping. Or serve on grilled or roasted fish, cold sliced chicken breasts or a hot-off-the-grill T-bone steak. It also makes for the simplest pasta of all: cold sauce on hot noodles, topped with grated fresh Parmigiano, shaved curls of Pecorino Romano or crumbles of feta or goat cheese.

Makes about 2 cups

2 fat ripe heirloom tomatoes, the best-tasting varieties you can find
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh basil leaves

Remove the tomato stems and cores and cut away any healed cracks in the skin (those rough, dark blemishes commonly found on heirloom tomatoes). Over a large bowl, use your hands to tear the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces, then squeeze and squish to make a coarse sauce.

Season heartily with salt and pepper, stir in the olive oil and basil and set aside on the counter for the flavors to blend at room temperature until ready to serve. Taste for seasoning right before serving and add more salt if needed; the flavors will have changed during the sauce’s rest.

This recipe appeared in the Summer 2019 issue as part of a larger piece on Dips, Spreads and Sauces.