RECIPES: Recipe Details

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Ridiculously Easy Pasta Sauce

For an ever-growing number of Californians a weekly trip to their local farmer's market has become a way of life. My day is Tuesday. I go early, sometimes arriving before all of the produce has been unloaded. Even an hour later and there will be lines to contend with, but most importantly, the eggs from my favorite pasture-raised chicken farmer will be gone.

Carly Hargrove, the heroine in CARLY'S GIFT, is a farmer's market kind of woman. She's someone who can prepare a complex meal and get everything to the table while it's still hot--an art that has always personally eluded me. Friends and neighbors look at her in awe, never guessing that behind her carefully structured facade, her life is coming apart, and that when it does, the consequences will be devastating.

Following is a recipe Carly could prepare sleepwalking through the kitchen. I work a little harder to get it right, but not much. It's one of those "a little bit of this and a whole lot of that" kind of recipes, but I promise you that, no matter how you adjust the ingredients, it will turn out as if it was exactly what you had planned all along.


Tomatoes – absolutely any kind will work, including a mixture of sizes and colors. You need enough, cut in half with the cut side up, to tightly fill a glass 9x13 inch pan.

Garlic – two to twenty cloves, completely dependent on your love and tolerance.

Basil – fresh, minimum twenty medium leaves, maximum dependent on your love and tolerance.

Olive Oil – 1/3 cup, more or less dependent on how much garlic and basil used.



Finely chop the garlic and basil by hand or in a food processor (be careful not to over-process into a paste). Add olive oil and spoon the combination over tomatoes, adding more olive oil if needed. Bake at 375 degrees, uncovered for forty-five minutes. Mash with a fork for a rustic sauce, or pour into a heat-proof bowl and use an immersion blender for a smoother sauce. Pour over pasta. Serve.

Variations – just before serving add shrimp or ground beef that you've cooked separately.

The sauce freezes well so consider doubling the recipe and freezing half.

Serve with a green salad and crusty artesian bread. Be prepared for the shower of compliments.