food,  local,  recipes,  wine

Don’t Hate Them Because They’re Ugly

If you ever see someone crawling on the sidewalk underneath the tables at the farmers’ market, that person would be me. In late summer and early fall, I will be close to the ground, digging through the boxes of ugly tomatoes that aren’t perfect enough to put on display. You know the tomatoes I’m talking about–the squishy, cracked, bruised, or misshapen ones. Farmers usually sell them for about 50 cents a pound at this time of year.

Most people will take one glance at these ugly tomatoes and walk on by. I ask you to reserve judgment, because ugly tomatoes are perfect for one of my favorite tomato recipes: Bruschetta Sauce. This recipe is modified from one of my mom’s.


  • About 5 cups of imperfect, fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped into large pieces (about 1-inch by 1-inch, but don’t get too picky about uniform size–this is a rustic sauce). Cut off any really nasty bits, but most flaws will be only on the surface.
  • 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 c. fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • 1 TB rosemary, chopped (dried or fresh)
  • 2TB oregano (dried or fresh)
  • 2 large shallots OR 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 TB balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • a splash of red wine if you’ve got a bottle open
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Using a wooden spoon, mix everything together in a large mixing bowl, then spread the mixture onto a large roasting pan or deep-sided baking sheet. You may need two pans, depending on the size of the pan. Roast in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. When done, serve over pasta, rice, couscous, or spread onto bread. The remainder may be frozen in jars or plastic freezer bags to be enjoyed later–preferably in mid-winter when tomato season is a far-off dream.