I’ve been craving tomatoes. Not just any tomato, but a sun-soaked red or yellow cherry tomato fresh from the summer garden.
Alas, winter is upon us. All hopes of a summer tomato are deferred until at least July. Like an addict needing a fix, I found myself wistfully looking through photos of these summer beauties.
Beautiful tomatoes from Lancaster County, PA
Grown the hydroponic way in Dover, Delaware
I want one right now
Summer tomatoes from Rehoboth Beach, DE
The very Roma tomatoes I oven dried
What my dreams are made of
After wiping the drool from my chin, I exclaimed, “THAT’S IT. I WANT TOMATOES AND TOMATOES I SHALL HAVE!” I even shook two fists at the gray winter sky as I uttered the words.
Firm in my resolve, I went to the pantry to find the tomato goodness that would satisfy my craving. Jackpot! I scored a jar of local canned tomatoes–a Christmas present from thoughtful friends. Then I remembered the Roma tomatoes I oven-dried and stashed in the freezer for just such an occasion. I held them like precious jewels, imagining their concentrated sweet tomato flavor.
Marrying summer and winter was easy. I used the crock pot–a decidedly winter appliance in my house. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out, but since I had quality ingredients preserved at their peak of freshness, I wasn’t disappointed.
Locally grown, canned tomatoes
I’ll make this again and again, especially when I’m jonesin’ for a tomato fix!
Four Tomato Chicken Pasta
1 pound boneless chicken thighs (or breasts, whichever you prefer. Oh and if you’re a veggie, just add a couple cans of chick peas to the crock pot instead of chicken.)
Kosher salt and pepper
1 jar canned summer tomatoes with juice (or 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, if you have that on hand)
1 cup tomato sauce
6 tablespoons tomato paste
8 oven-dried tomatoes (or jarred sun-dried tomatoes)
3 sprigs fresh thyme or oregano (I used thyme because it’s the fresh herb I had on hand)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine (or use water)
Sugar, to taste
Thin spaghetti or your favorite pasta shape, cooked according to package directions
Season chicken with salt and pepper generously. Place in the crock pot. In a medium bowl, combine jarred/diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, oven-dried tomatoes, red wine, and garlic. Pour over chicken. Add thyme/oregano to the crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
Ready to cook low and slow
When ready to eat, cook pasta according to package directions. Remove chicken and thyme sprigs from the crock pot. Shred chicken with fork, set aside. This is where I tasted the sauce and added a teaspoon or so of sugar. You may think the sauce is perfect the way it is or you may want to add salt or sugar. Just make sure to taste it to check on those seasonings.
Chicken, shredded, tender and flavorful
Turn crock pot to high, remove the lid. and cook uncovered until the sauce thickens up a bit (I did this for as long as it took the pasta to cook).
The oven-dried tomatoes were the star of this dish
Return the shredded chicken to the sauce. When heated through, turn the crock pot off. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano if you have it! (I didn’t, but it was still delish.)
A taste of summer in a winter dish
What’s your favorite summer produce item? How do you get through the winter without it?