I’ve grated cheese, old bread, chocolate, lemon peel, and ginger root…  I’ve grated zucchini, potatoes, and apples.  Tomatoes?  Never thought I ever would.  But a dear friend of mine (hi, Heather!) did just that and raved about it.  She is such an awesome cook, I never hesitate to follow her recommendations.  The recipe was published in the food section of the New York Times last month.

(from The New York Times, August 2010)

3/4 pound ripe, locally grown tomatoes
1  garlic clove,  finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2  teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
6 ounces green beans, trimmed
3/4 pound farfalle pasta
2 tablespoons basil leaves, slivered
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmiggiano cheese for serving

Begin heating a large pot of water. If you happen to be cooking in the nano-kitchen, this step should be started 2 hours before dinner, give or take 10 minutes. Cut the tomatoes in half across the equator, and grate on the large holes of a box grater into a wide bowl, discard skin. Stir in the garlic, salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the green beans, cooking them for four minutes.   Transfer to a bowl of cold water, drain and dry on paper towels. Keep the water in the pot boiling for the pasta. Cut the beans into two-inch lengths (I cut smaller), and add to the bowl with the tomatoes.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente.  When it’s done, drain and toss with the tomato mixture, basil and cheese.

(Makes 4 servings)


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These gorgeous heirloom tomatoes were my first acquisition in the market in Los Angeles.  I’ve made plenty of raw tomato sauces before, normally using a food processor or blender, sometimes just dicing them by hand.  Grating is easy, fast, and produces a very interesting texture.  The skin of the tomatoes act to protect your hand during grating –  just don’t get overly excited – once you feel it laying flat on the surface of the grater, you are done.  I did not bother removing the seeds, but if you want an even smoother texture, squeeze them gently to de-seed, and then grate the flesh.  I am looking forward to using this basic tomato sauce with asparagus, capers, black olives…

Those following my adventures might be wondering how on Earth could I cook pasta without a stove?  Well, we found a little something in the house, still in its box,  never used.   It takes its sweet time to boil water, but beggars can’t be choosers, can they?


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  1. Sally, I’m so glad you loved the pasta as much as we did. You found some delicious-looking tomatoes at the market. And your mini stove is great! Your kitchen is going to present a challenge this year, but you are up to it—I’m convinced you can do anything!


    • Jean, you have no idea how long that thing takes to heat…. I suspect there is a problem with the current/voltage in the house, my food processor works slower than normal, and it seems to me that a brand new appliance should heat faster – the coils don’t even get all red…. (sigh)


  2. A friend of mine had a Greek boyfriend and went to live on the island of Corfu, where she also learned to grate tomatoes. Apparently her boyfriend’s family looked at her strangely when she attempted to chop them! But I have tried this too and as well as getting a really nice texture you seem to get a fresher flavour too . . . or maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part after grating my fingers too!


  3. I’ve been grating my tomatoes for Italian and Spanish sauces for almost 2 years now since I made Jose Andres’s Paella. I love the texture and somehow the flavor seems better too.

    The pasta dish looks terrific!


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