Almost Instant Microwave (!) Tomato Sauce

This hot, muggy weather makes me crave tomatoes, but local tomatoes are still a long way off. To satisfy the urge, there's a quick and simple dish we make at home with a mixture of grape or cherry tomatoes that usually does the trick. It's the one and only thing I've ever cooked in a microwave oven.  Here's how it goes. Rinse the tomatoes in a colander and spread them in a glass or ceramic pie dish. Drizzle the tomatoes with a nice, fruity olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle with thinly sliced garlic, crushed red pepper and/or any herb you like (parsley, basil, thyme, sage, cilantro). Cover the dish and microwave at high power for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how soft you want the tomatoes. That's all there is to it, but somehow the tomatoes emerge tangy and sweet and delicious every time. Serve as a side dish, or toss the tomatoes (and their juices) with pasta or sauteed vegetables or spoon them on grilled meats, chicken, fish, sausages or bread, fried eggs, polenta or fresh ricotta.

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