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The Bright, Fresh Tomato Sauce They Teach You First in Culinary School

The first time I ever saw fresh tomatoes get turned into tomato sauce, it was a revelation. I was a teenager, and I stared at the fresh sauce as if I had lived in the desert my entire life and was seeing snow for the first time. The fresh sauce was vibrant, delicate, and light pink in color. It expressed the gentle sweetness and thirst-quenching nature of a ripe tomato.

The fresh tomato sauce gave me cognitive dissonance: I had previously known tomato sauce to be dark red, thick, found in jars, and purchased in stores. In my mind, the link between fresh tomatoes and jarred tomato sauce was opaque and purely theoretical. I had always just assumed that tomato sauce came from some unknowable combination of tomatoes, heavy industry, and magic.

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Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce
by Josh Cohen

But the most exciting thing about fresh homemade tomato sauce is how easy it is to make. This sauce is one of the first things they teach you to make in culinary school (where they call it tomato concassé): It’s empowering to break down full, raw ingredients like tomatoes, and you realize how simple and fun it is to transform them into sauce—something you may have once thought to be only attainable in jars at the grocery store. Simply score the tomatoes with a sharp knife, blanch them for about a minute in simmering water, and chill them in cold water to stop the cooking. At this point, you can easily peel the skin off and and discard it then dice the flesh of the tomato and cook it briefly in a saute pan to make the sauce.

If you have the time, discard not just the tomato skins but the seeds as well before you make the sauce. Set a fine mesh strainer over a mixing bowl, cut your tomato into quarters or eighths, and you can discard the seeds while simultaneously collecting the flavorful juice from the tomato. This liquid, known in professional kitchens as “tomato water,” is tremendously flavorful. If you add the tomato water and some butter to your saute pan with the diced tomato, your fresh sauce will taste rich and pure, like the essence of summer tomato season.

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Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce

By Josh Cohen

  • 4
    large beefsteak tomatoes

  • 4
    tablespoons butter

  • 2
    cloves garlic, minced

  • Salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1
    pound of your favorite dried pasta

  • 1
    cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese

  • 1
    handful torn basil leaves

View Full Recipe

Tell us about something that blew your mind the first time you cooked it in the comments below.

Vote on a Name for Our New Food52 Blue from Mosser Glass!

Jadeite, pale flower-petal pink, milk white, and a swirling grey: Our colors from Ohio-based maker Mosser Glass are pretty near perfect.

But we thought it was time to shake things up. (We like messing with perfect, see?) Please welcome our newest color from Mosser—a brilliant, soothing blue—which they designed exclusively for us (and you!). It’s the only Mosser Color you can’t get anywhere else. It’s Food52’s Mosser blue.

We’re launching these new blue pieces in a few short weeks—but before then, we need your help to name the newly minted color. Take a look:

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What shall we call thee, blue?
Photos by Rocky Luten

After many brainstorming sessions (one even with the entire company) wherein we batted around names of flowers, foods, and bodies of water that this blue reminded us of, we decided they were all a little too literal. We wanted, as Merrill put it, “something abstract that has meaning to us!” A blue that gets at the heart of Food52.

Here are three options we settled on, without further ado:

  • Chelsea (Food52’s neighborhood in NYC for the past three years!)
  • Georgica (The site of Amanda’s family’s home, in Long Island—and where she got married!)
  • Brooklin (Not to be confused with the borough near us; this is the town in Maine where Merrill was married, and the site of her family home.)
%name Vote on a Name for Our New Food52 Blue from Mosser Glass!
The blue looks lighter in bright lights and more saturated in shadows (these are the first of the new cake stands in production!).
Photo by Alicia Oblander

It’s a very special color—in all their forty-plus years as a company, Mosser has never come up with a color exclusively for any of their partners—so we’re more than a little excited.

Tell us in the comments which name you like the best for our new blue—Chelsea Blue, Georgica Blue, or Brooklin Blue—and we’ll name a winner very soon.

6 Summery Sweets to Make Immediately—& Without Turning on the Oven

The results are in! Here are the recipes our community loved from Your Best No-Bake Dessert.

Once again, we want to give a big, big thanks to all of our volunteer recipe testers for your thoughtful comments and for helping us continue to strengthen our recipe recommendations. You can read the winning headnote and tester’s comments by clicking through to the Community Picks recipes—the comments are at the top. And even if the recipe you tested wasn’t chosen as a CP, please feel free to leave your testing notes in the recipe’s comments section. Constructive criticism is always encouraged!

Community Picks (Tested and photographed by us!)

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Berries with Rosé
by EmilyC
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Raw Mixed Berry and Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
by Lisa Bryan
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Paal Payasam (3-Ingredient Rice Pudding)
by Panfusine

Community Picks (Tested by you!)

Yogurt Fudgesicles with Pistachios by Liz | inspired by the seasons
Ginger Beer Sherbet by The Cooking of Joy
Orange Blossom Honey Panna Cotta by hardlikearmour

8 Tomatoey Cocktails (Including Some Very Good Bloody Marys)

There are those who love the Bloody Mary above all else and those who are mostly in it for the garnish and those would rather just have a bowl of tomato soup with a grilled cheese on the side. But tomato drinks go well beyond the Bloody Mary—there’s your secret-pleasure airplane order of spicy tomato juice, and then there’s shrub and lassis and more! Here are just a few ways to sip summer’s beefiest, blushing-est fruit:

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Sangrita and Tequila Shot
by Samantha Weiss Hills
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Tomato Shrub
by fiveandspice
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Michelada (a.k.a. Bloody Beer)
by TheFlyingFoodie
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Heirloom Tomato and Mango Lassi with Ground Sumac
by Sagegreen

And then, of course, there are the Bloodies:

For the straight-shooter:

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A Very Good Bloody Mary
by Ali Slagle

For the DIYer:

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Rick’s Picks Bloody Mary Mix
by Rick Field

For the spice lovers and thrill seekers:

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Horseradish Vodka Bloody Mary
by NWB

For the funk fiend:

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David Welch’s Red Boat Bloody Mary
by Jenn Louis

Tomatoes: Not just for cookin’ with. How do you whizz them into drinks of all kinds? Tell us in the comments.

Surprise! This Supremely Satisfying Pan of Eggs & Tomatoes is *Not* Shakshuka

Most self-proclaimed egg lovers will have tried the most popular eggy-heavy brunch dishes that are currently making the rounds: There’s the Middle Eastern shakshuka, Mexican huevos rancheros, and Italian uova al pomodoro (eggs in purgatory).

Tried them all, love them all… but am also slightly bored by them.

Last summer, I spent a couple of days in Istanbul and expectations were high. It was my first visit to the Turkish metropolis and I had heard so many good things from friends.

Unfortunately, through no fault of the city, the trip fell short. It rained the entire time, our Airbnb was tiny, dirty, and located right above one of the neighborhood’s loudest clubs, and I dropped and subsequently broke my camera on the first day. It wasn’t great. But on our last day we decided to hit a local menemen joint; a precursory Google search had told me that “menemen is a traditional Turkish dish which includes eggs, tomato, green peppers, and spices”—and it sounded exactly like what we needed.

The menemen came served in the piping-hot dish it had been cooked in, accompanied by various accoutrements: beyaz peynir (a type of white, brined cheese), a ring of simit (Turkish sesame bread), and fried, salty slices of sujuk (garlic sausage). We dug in, dipping the bread into the eggy mixture, which reminded me of a cross between a juicy omelet and loose, scrambled eggs—essentially, a tomato and pepper sauce that’s thickened with egg. We ate the salty pieces of sujuk with our hands and delighted in this cheap, filling dish.

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Menemen (Turkish Scrambled Eggs with Tomatoes and Peppers)
by Liv

To this day, I cannot tell you how many eggs they used per serving. But I’m going to go ahead and assume it was a lot. We had breakfast around 9 A.M. and spent the whole day trekking across the city and only in the evening did we feel those first pangs of hunger. All of my travel companions are solid eaters, so I’m going to venture a guess and assume that we probably consumed around five eggs each that morning.

Back home in Berlin, I became obsessed. I made different pans of menemen for days on end, sometimes rich and involved—using both olive oil and butter and blanching the tomatoes to peel the skin before throwing them in the pan—, sometimes quicker iterations that substituted smoked paprika for the spicy peppers. I tried versions with and without sujuk; I served it with white rolls instead of simit; I made some that were bone-dry and others that resembled soup more than eggs. I never managed to recreate that Istanbul menemen though.

Luckily, Berlin, sometimes referred to as little Istanbul, is home to a thriving Turkish community—and there’s enough menemen to go around.

Finally, after speaking to two Turkish bartenders who both recommended the same spot, I found my holy grail: La Femme has five outlets around Berlin and serves the closest version to the Istanbul menemen that I remember. I asked several of La Femme’s employees what they considered to be “a good menemen.” To pretty much no one’s surprise, I got varying answers: Some liked it with onion, others didn’t. Some liked the peppers stewed into oblivion, others enjoyed it when the pieces retained a slight crunch. One waiter loved his family’s more liquidy menemen, another preferred it dry. The preferences continued.

Menemen is a personal dish, as most egg dishes are. I’ve come to find that my ideal version includes both oil and butter because now that I’ve curbed my obsession, I tend to enjoy menemen for a lazy Sunday brunch, which deserves two kinds of fat.

During my visits to the numerous menemen establishments, I learned that it’s a dish for anyone and everyone. All you need is a handful of vegetables (preferably picked from your garden, but hey, that’s a dream we can’t all fulfill) and some eggs. You can use as many or as few eggs as you like and it easily serves a crowd. It’s a meal that satisfies you to your very core. The eggs’ richness pairs beautifully with the slight tang of the white cheese, and the smattering of parsley lends a note of freshness and some lovely contrast. You can even go completely off course and eat it with some crusty ciabatta!

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100 Ways to Eat Eggs
by Samantha Weiss Hills

When eaten in a restaurant, menemen is served in individual metal dishes, usually sizzling furiously and nicely firmed around the edges whilst tender and deliciously moist in the middle. But at home I either eat it straight out of the pan, dunking the bread into it, or I pile it high into a bowl.

If you can’t find the mild green Turkish peppers, substitute a mix of red and green ones. I typically have no use for green peppers, but their earthiness goes well with the tomato’s sweetness so I tend to keep a sole green pepper at hand, for menemen emergencies. It’s a fantastic brunch dish but is as nice eaten for lunch or even for a light August dinner, when the tomatoes are so ripe all you need to do is to throw them into the pan for the fruits to release their juices.

Berlin’s culture and day-to-day life is strongly influenced by the city’s Turkish inhabitants. Many of us shop in large Turkish grocers on a regular basis; the recent street food movement was practically birthed by kebabs and köftes; and drinking a fresh ayran while the sun rises after a particularly long night out is a rite of passage.

And still, menemen has yet to go mainstream, with an invisible line dividing Berliners: those who know and love menemen, and those who have have yet to discover its delights. I often find myself in a tiny Turkish bakery, sharing the lone table with a family, all of us smiling as we heartily dip chunks of bread into the dish. And that’s the beauty of menemen: We’re all the same when we have egg smeared across our face.

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Menemen (Turkish Scrambled Eggs with Tomatoes and Peppers)

By Liv

  • 2
    tablespoons olive oil

  • 1
    tablespoon butter

  • 1
    small white onion, diced

  • 3
    green, mild Turkish peppers, seeded and chopped (or substitute 1 red bell pepper and 1/2 green bell pepper)

  • 1/2
    teaspoon good quality red pepper flakes, ideally a medium-spicy Turkish or Aleppo variety

  • 1
    clove garlic, minced

  • 4
    large tomatoes, chopped

  • 5
    eggs, room temperature

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Parsley, chopped

  • Turkish simit or other crusty bread

  • Optional: fried sujuk (garlic sausage) and beyaz peynir (brined Turkish cheese similar to feta), to sprinkle on top

View Full Recipe

What’s the best egg dish you’ve tasted while traveling? Tell us in the comments below!