Back in February we talked about farm to table and shopping at the farmers market. It really is a better option for fresh produce and supports the local economy as well. But it is also a much healthier way to feed your family. P&J Farm is a USDA certified organic farm that you will find at the Ocean Springs fresh market on Saturday morning. Pat and Jeff are the owners, and you just can’t find healthier produce and herbs anywhere. There are no chemicals, no pesticides and what you buy from Pat and Jeff was picked fresh for the market. There is a big hand full of other farmers to shop with at the market and all bring something to your table that you can’t get at the grocery store.
One of my favorite recipes is making a fresh tomato sauce for pasta. There are two basic kinds of red sauces, a fresh sauce is made with fresh tomatoes and is quick cooking, a classic ragout or Bolognaise we made with canned tomatoes, meat and is cooked for hours. Spring is the time of the year for fresh sauce, and it should be served with fresh pasta as well (buy it in the refrigerated section at Rouses).
The Italians are sticklers for pairing pasta and sauce. They also go nuts when we add too much sauce (It’s not soup!). Fresh pasta for light sauces, Bolognaise with thick, chewy pasta. Also, one more side note, fresh pasta is not eaten al dente. In fact, it cooks so quickly, it Is not possible to get the “to the tooth” (al dente) quality that it implies.
Give this recipe a try.
2 -3 cups rough chopped fresh tomatoes (if you don’t get them at the farmers market, buy heirloom tomatoes or the small, round cherry tomatoes at Rouses)
1 chopped and seeded jalapeno
A big handful of fresh basil, cut chiffonade (roll it like a cigarette and cut crossways, thin)
1-2 pinches red pepper flakes
1-2 pinches coarse sea salt
Best quality olive oil, better if it is unfiltered
Parmigiano Reggiano, cut into curls (not grated)
Optional: fine diced red onion, capers
Add olive oil to a good sauté pan, add the red pepper flakes (helps to wake the pepper up if it is toasted first) and the jalapenos (and red onion if you are using it). Sauté for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes. Cook for 5-10 minutes, the tomatoes should start to fall apart. Add more olive oil (remember, it is not just a lubricant, it’s a delicious ingredient). Taste and re-season as necessary.
This really is best served with fresh pasta, but if that is not an option for you, use a thin pasta, like angel hair, spaghetti, or capellini. Here is another interesting option: remove the pasta from boiling water about 2 minutes before it is done, then finish it in the bubbling sauce.
Please, please, do not overcook the pasta and do not make soup out of it!
When the sauce is done, toss with the pasta, garnish with the basil and Parmigiano Reggiano.
One more note on the Ocean Springs fresh market, it is now open the second Sunday of each month, 1-4 pm.