AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Cooking for Fred Flintstone DATE: 8/27/2008 09:13:00 AM ----- BODY:
Last summer, I dated a man I affectionately called Fred Flintstone. He garnered this nickname because of his caveman-like eating habits. He had many wonderful virtues, but his palate was not one of them. His diet consisted of three things: chicken parmesan, pizza and kung pao chicken. Since eating out is one of my favorite pastimes, I wanted to expand his repertoire and expose him to new flavors so we could eat together at a greater variety of restaurants. I had a plan: start with the basics and refine them. I thought, “I’ll make him the best friggin’ chicken parm he’s ever eaten!”

Off to Whole Foods: I bought organic, free range chicken, fresh mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, and brioche for homemade bread crumbs. For the sauce, I had organic, heirloom tomatoes that I canned. I proudly served him my masterpiece: The chicken was cooked perfectly, properly seasoned and juicy. The mozzarella had a light golden crust and the crunchy bread crumb crust with seasoned with the parmesan cheese and olive oil. He said, “Your sauce could use a little tomato paste.” He ate more broccoli than chicken, which was a particularly bad sign since vegetables were not part of his regular diet. I was thoroughly demoralized.

I wouldn’t tell him this, but he wasn’t completely wrong. The sauce was watery. Tomato paste was not necessarily the answer but it did need thickening – either by longer cooking or by using a less juicy tomato.

Out of this came a new way of making tomato sauce that does not require long simmering and stirring. I roast roma tomatoes, sliced in half, with garlic cloves and shallots. When everything is slightly browned and caramelized, I puree it all with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs.

Why did we break up, you ask? Because he was a hopeless caveman, and I couldn’t convince him to try foods beyond his basic three dishes. Perhaps, I had diminished his culinary trust in me with watery tomato sauce.

He never did try the improved version. But I have a new red sauce recipe to remember him by.

Fred Flintstone Tomato Sauce
3 pounds plum tomatoes, cut in half, lengthwise
2 shallots, peeled and cut in half
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2-3 stalks fresh thyme
½ cup olive oil
2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 sprig basil
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Toss tomatoes with shallots, garlic, thyme and oil.

2. Roast the tomatoes in the oven for 30 minutes at 400F or until tomatoes are tender and the garlic is lightly browned.

3. Puree the tomatoes with garlic and shallots in a food processor. When smooth, add basil and puree for 10 seconds more just to chop. Adjust seasoning with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Broccoli that even a Caveman will eat
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1//4 teaspoon chili flakes
1 squeeze lemon juice

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and chili flakes. When garlic starts to brown add broccoli. Stir to coat in olive oil and garlic. Add ¼ cup of water to steam broccoli. When water evaporates and broccoli is bright green, season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger melissa DATE:8/27/2008 12:04:00 PM So you roast the tomatoes with the garlic and shallot, but don't blend them with the sauce? I'm curious because I would totally want the taste of the roasted garlic in there, but not if it wouldn't puree well.

I have a bag of garden tomatoes from my coworker right now and I was thinking about a sauce, simply to use them up.

Thanks for keeping in touch Julia! ;) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:8/27/2008 01:26:00 PM Hi Melissa, I do puree the shallots and garlic with the tomatoes. Since they're cooked, they don't get the same acrid taste as if they were pureed raw. This is totally lazy-person's sauce. It freezes great too. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:8/27/2008 06:45:00 PM The sauce sounds delicious, and really appeals to my lazy summer cooking style (and I can freeze it -- hooray!). And the caveman? Anyone who doesn't eat more than three things is definitely not the guy for you. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger melissa DATE:8/28/2008 01:18:00 AM I'm sorry, I think I missed that the first time! I do love this idea though, seriously, to use the tomatoes I have. I bet the sauce would be just fantastic. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:8/28/2008 07:36:00 AM Lydia, You are so right about caveman, thanks.

Melissa, you didn't miss it. After you posted a comment I modified/clarified the recipe -- I'm sure you weren't the only one to question the directions. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous limeduck DATE:8/29/2008 06:35:00 AM With your creativity and a little determination, I bet you could go a long way on a small number of dishes - that's the basis of the theme ingredient on Iron Chef, isn't it? Chicken Parm Three Ways, anybody?

But seriously, the "modern love" take here is interesting - can the foodie ever really love the caveman or the vegetarian for that matter? What's the best way to introduce your partner to something new without talking down? ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:8/29/2008 04:18:00 PM limeduck, I think it is possible for a foodie to love a caveman or a vegetarian... but it requires both parties to have an open mind. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Bishop22 DATE:8/31/2008 07:01:00 PM Now that sounds like the premise for a reality dating show ;) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Anonymous DATE:2/18/2009 01:58:00 PM Very cute, Julia. ----- --------