I get those moments when I become obsessive about a particular idea. The pass few weeks (yes weeks!) I have been obsessively thinking about how to eat tomatoes in the winter. The rabbit hole I entered led me to this wonderful creamy cheesy tomato pesto sauce.
Tomato runs in my blood. As a Yoruba woman, who was born and bred in Lagos for the entirety of my childhood, the tomato is a thing. It has taken a long time to not compulsively eat tomato sauce/stew with every meal. Growing in Lagos, we had really good tomatoes year round. I mean, there were times when there was scarcity and you wondered why the whole country had to subsist on tomatoes. However, more often than not, there was abundance. So many baskets of ripe and juicy tomatoes spilling over the woven basket. The market floor was often littered with rotten and underripe tomato tossed out carelessly by the traders.
I left that place of abundance to come to America, where tomatoes are mostly just passable. At first,I did not realize what I had given up because I lived in California. It seemed almost season-less. And I mean both the tomato and the state. Then I dragged my life over to Massachusett and suddenly, tomatoes have seasons. There is a very short window where I allow myself to eat tomatoes. it is usually from the middle of summer to late summer.
This short window of time is when the tomatoes are just about right to be eaten raw. A good tomato is juicy, almost like a ripe peach. When you bite into it, the juice oozes out uncontrollably. It should have a nice acidic edge that is only mellowed by its own sweetness. There is no way to write fully in words the magic that happens when you get a truly ripe tomato of good pedigree.
So, as you can imagine, given the frigidness I live with in New England, the magic of the tomato is one that is hard to lay my hands upon in the winter. I have had to come to terms with this. Come to terms means I don’t eat tomatoes in the winter, except it is canned. That is until I discovered a way to have cheesy tomato pesto sauce in the winter.
Lately, I have discovered a new class of tomato products for the winter. It started with Divina tomatoes last year and this year has escalated to the marinated cherry tomatoes from Trader Joes. Goodness me! When I first tried the Divina Roasted Red Tomatoes, I knew it was a love that might not stand the test of time. I could not justify to myself, and my bank account, the wisdom of buying eight dollar jars of tomatoes. I knew it was something I would only ever be able to eat when it is on sale (trust me, I keep my eye on the price sticker at my grocery store).
The Trader Joes semi-dried and marinated Cherry tomatoes has been a perfect way to ease the hurt of not being able to afford the Divina tomatoes. If I am being honest, I also realize that the Trader Joes and Divina tomatoes are best for different purposes. The Trader Joes semi-dried tomatoes are best for cooking sauces. The Divina roasted tomatoes work best as a topping.
I have recently been using the Trader Joes semi-dried cherry tomatoes in this quick cheesy tomato pesto sauce. It requires no cooking and it is a reliable 15-25 minute meal provider. Most of that time is spent cooking pasta or prepping vegetables. The sauce comes about quickly in a blender and works so well went add to hot freshly cooked pasta.
The tomato pesto sauce is super easy to make. The ingredients mostly come out of a jar. Plus, the sauce does incredibly well in the fridge, on its own or mixed in with food.
Tomato Pesto Sauce
A quick and easy tomato sauce that creates goodness from roasted cherry tomatoes and a few other items from a jar.
- 1 Cup Trader Joes Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- 1 Roasted Medium Red Pepper
- 1/3 Cup Pesto
- 1/3 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1 Tsp Chilli Flakes
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- Smoked Gouda Cheese Optional
Add all of the ingredients, except salt and cheese, in a food processor and pulse until it comes into a smooth consistency.
Taste the sauce after blending. Season with salt to taste.
Tomato Pesto Sauce tastes best when mixed into freshly boiled hot pasta. The heat from the pasta heats the sauce. A bit of pasta water can be added to loosen up the sauce to desired consistency.
Shred the gouda cheese and sprinkle on top of the pasta as desired.