The trouble with tomatoes.

Spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce

Slime. Goo, guck, glop.  Or whatever you want to call the viscous heart of just about every raw tomato. That (and lots of little tough seeds) is why Gourmandistan can be very, very wary of its fresh “love apples,” much to the dismay of many of our friends who eat tomatoes out of hand in their gardens.


We certainly think bacon, lettuce (or avocado) and tomato sandwiches are delicious, but (at least in our world) only require very thin slices of firm, fresh tomato. We appreciate our farm share cherry tomatoes, but they add cloying sweetness and an even bigger ratio of goo and seeds to meat.  The cherries are usually dispatched to the dehydrator, then frozen to await their role as sauce strengtheners over the Winter. When we’re making sauce with our beloved San Marzanos we’re not above tossing in an heirloom beefsteak or other variety, but sauce-making is still a few weeks away.


There is one way we enjoy (nearly) raw tomatoes — in a lovely light sauce from Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables. For a few perfectly ripe, firm (and even juicy) tomatoes, it’s one of the best ways to go.


  • Servings: 4 supposedly, but it usually serves only 2-3 in our house
  • Print

(adapted, only barely, from Chez Panisse Vegetables)

  • 3 or 4 perfectly ripe tomatoes
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • A handful or parsley and/or basil, chopped
  • ½ c. fruity olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Cut out the stem ends and dice the tomatoes.  If you are obsessive like Michelle, you can peel and seed them before dicing.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet until quite hot but not smoking. Throw the garlic into the oil. Before the garlic begins to brown, add the tomatoes and stir. (Careful, they may spatter a bit.)  Add the chopped herbs and cook for only a few minutes, just until the tomatoes are warmed through and begin to slump a little. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss with cooked pasta.  We usually use homemade spaghetti, but anything will do.  Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Leftovers, if there are any, are delicious topped with an egg that has been lightly fried in olive oil.


  1. Why, you two Gourmandistanders are kinda tomato-averse. Who knew? Chickens, on the other hand, love tomatoes.

    This actually sounds divine, but I will probably roast the garlic first.

    Stupid groundhogs ate the rest of the tomatoes, by the way. Luckily, we have a nice weekly farmers’ market nearby.

  2. Thanks, all! And, yes, Sue, it’s shameful. Despite all our local organic vegetable, blah, blah, blah, you just won’t see us voluntarily biting into a raw tomato. You’re so right that the chickens love them though. (Of course we can’t talk about what all the chickens will eat… If we talked about that, nobody would eat chickens or eggs!)

  3. This is about the most standard, trivial dish ever but your picture just called out to me so much, it looks like from a very, very good restaurant! Please don’t get this the wrong way, I find it’s usually in the most simple, banal things that true quality shows!

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