Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tomato Coulis: A Sauce idea from my Grandson

Three years ago at age two, my grandson August began eating his asparagus with ketchup. He still does. Moreover, he has convinced his younger cousin and best friend Isabella of the merits of ketchup on asparagus. And she now insists on it. I don't get it. For me as a kid, ketchup was meant for making ketchup sandwiches.

But figuring there might be an adult version of August's dish, I worked out a rich tomato coulis to ladle over a stack of roasted asparagus. While I was pleased with the sauce, it overpowered the distinctive but delicate taste of the asparagus. I'm afraid I still like that vegetable with butter or olive oil, or a mildly seasoned holandaise.

Now what to do with the coulis? As it turns out, it goes with stronger-flavored vegetables like steamed broccoli or, better yet, with very mild-flavored vegetables like herb-roasted potatoes. It strikes me it would also be good over a slice of meatloaf, or even over fried green tomatoes.

"Coulis" [coo-LEE] is relatively recent in French cooking. There are no established rules -- at least that I can find. The term seems most common in restaurants, applied to a sieved tomato or roasted pepper purée or, by extension, to one made of raspberries. A coulis seems typically colorful and red, medium thin, and fairly fresh-flavored. It is spooned over or around a food being served.

Here's my August-inspired tomato coulis.

Tomato Coulis for August

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes (unseasoned)
1 scallion (green onion), sliced thinly
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of black pepper
2 tablespoons sour cream

In a stainless steel or enamel (NOT aluminum or cast iron) pan, simmer tomatoes, scallion, sugar, paprika, salt and pepper 10 minutes, uncovered. Let cool partially. Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor, then push it through a strainer into a bowl, discarding any seeds, skin, etc.

Stir in the sour cream until smooth. Taste, and add salt if needed.

Serve warm over broccoli, roasted potatoes, or meatloaf.

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