Tag Archives: pomodorini

TIELLA DI VERDURE NELLO STILE DI PUGLIA. VEGETABLE TIELLA (LAYERED BAKED CASSEROLE) USING THE STYLES OF PUGLIA

LA TIELLA…..La Tiella is a dish used in Southern Italian cooking to bake foods like a layering of seafood, potatoes,rice and vegetable in Puglia or to make a pastry enclosed stuffed pie with various fillings, often seafood in Gaeta. The finished recipes are known as Tiella also. One of my favorites is an All Vegetable and Cheese style made in Puglia. While it’s not as popular as the mussels, potatoes and rice one it certainly is made often and depending on the town or the cook or the season the vegetables and cheeses may vary. This is my version of a vegetable Tiella. Sliced potatoes and vegetables layered with Pecorino and Scamorza cheese, olive oil and parsley, topped with rustic, coarse italian bread cubes with olive oil and cheese create this delicious dish. I don’t have a Tiella pan in my house from Italy, do you? LOL. But…instead I used a 9 inch cake pan. Baking dishes are fine too. The traditional Tiella isn’t very Deep so a cake pan or similar deep baking pan works well. Before you start, since I often FORGET!!!! after I’ve started layering, brush the sides and bottom of the pan with a blend of melted butter and olive oil. Then dust the sides and bottom with fine Italian bread crumbs. This helps create a nice but light crust around the sides and bottom of the finished dish. So many great regional Italian dishes that are relatively unknown away from their places of origin…I really get excited when I’m sharing one with you. Can you feel it? Well, I’m excited to show you…Let’s cook!!

TIELLA DI VERDURE (VEGETABLE TIELLA) FOR 4-6 2 HOURS

INGREDIENTI:

2 POTATOES, PEELED AND SLICED INTO 1/8 INCH SLICES

1 PT. CHERRY OR GRAPE TOMATOES, SLICED

2 MEDIUM ZUCCHINI, SLICED INTO 1/8 INCH SLICED

1 LARGE ONION, SLICED INTO 1/8 INCH SLICES

1/2 LB DICED OR SLICED SCAMORZA OR MOZZARELLA

1/4 CUP GRATED PECORINO ROMANO

OLIVE OIL AS NEEDED

2 TBS OF CHOPPED FRESH ITALIAN PARSLEY

1/4 TSP OF GOOD DRIED OREGANO OR 4 BASIL LEAVES

COARSELY CHOPPED STALE ITALIAN BREAD, ABOUT 1/8 CUP TOSSED WITH A LITTLE OLIVE OIL AND SALT

KOSHER SALT, COARSE GROUND BLACK PEPPER

PREHEAT OVEN to 375 degrees F. Saute’ the onions in a little olive oil and salt until they are wilted. reserve. drizzle more olive oil into the bottom of your baking dish. start with a layer of potatoes. season lightly with salt and pepper, some parsley, some pecorino, and a drizzle of olive oil. add a layer of the onions, then add a layer of tomatoes and some scamorza, oregano or basil, drizzle of olive oil, season with pecorino, salt and pepper, then another layer of potatoes, onions, another of tomatoes then the zucchini doing all the same things you did with the potatoes. When you’ve used up all your vegetables top with the last of the scamorza and pecorino, but then top with the coarse bread. Season that with a little more olive oil and pecorino then TIGHTLY COVER with foil and into the oven for 45-50 minutes. Best to place the baking dish on a baking tray to catch any liquid that drips out. Uncover and bake for addition 10 minutes or until the top is nicely browned. IMPORTANT…resist the tempation to eat it now!!!! Let this sit for at LEAST 20 MINUTES before cutting into it. Trust me. It’s a much better dish AND even better when you make it a day ahead and reheat it the next day. FLAVOR!!!!! a great entree’ or side dish. I like to serve it with grilled fish, fried meatballs, chicken, pork chops..

PASTA ALLO SCARPARIELLO SALERNO STYLE, PASTA WITH A TOMATO, OLIVE OIL, ONION, BASIL, PEPERONCINO AND SAUSAGE SAUCE WITH PARMIGIANO AND PECORINO

Never stop learning. Never stop looking for new ideas from traditional places. I’m always reading and learning about the World’s cuisines.. IT’S SO BIG how could you not? I’m terribly obsession (hence my on line name) with everything about food, especially Italian. One of the points I try politely to get across to people on line who follow me is that what was made in your family’s kitchens is never indicative of the entire scope of a country’s cuisine. Italian cuisine is no different. Case in point, ALLO SCARPARIELLO. Now here’s where Italian cuisine gets confusing, especially for ITalian Americans as we have our own nomenclature for certain dishes in both Italian and ITalianAmerican food traditions. SCARPARIELLO at its heart is a Napoletana word that means pertaining to a Shoemaker. In ItalianAmerica it’s a name given to a baked or sauteed and braised Chicken dish with wine, garlic, onion, peppers, onions, potatoes, sausage…any or all of those ingredient. There no “one” Chicken Scarpariello. In Italy Scarpariello is a sauce for Pasta that was created in Naples. Originally it was leftover Sunday Sauce that no longer had any meat in it as the week went on. To make a quick meal for the shoemakers they would cook pasta in the leftover sauce and then add a very generous amount of grated cheese to it compensating for the lack of meat. Another legend is that since so many of the Shoemaker’s customers were quite poor they would pay in Cheese instead of money. Are those great reasons to want to make this dish in your home? But I have more little info for you. As is the case in ITaly and NEVER argue with an ITalian about food, there are withiin the same region different stylesof Pasta Allo Scarpariello. How’s that? In Napoli it’s the basic…a sauce of Datterini or Cherry tomatoes melted down in olive oil or lard, garlic, peperoncino, the hot pasta is finished in the sauce along with a hefty amount of grated PARMIGIANO and PECORINO. After a little cooking time it’s served with lots of fresh basil around the plate. Go only about 1 hour and 1/4 East of Naples to the city of Benevento. There Pasta Allo Scarpariello has the addition of a little Cream at the end. Drive 45 minutes south from Napoli to the city of Salerno and you’ll find the same sauce as Naples but with fresh sausages, either whole or crumbled. This post will show you how to cook the one with Sausage from Salerno. I know you’re going to like this!! In Napoli Garlic goes in the sauce, for this Salerno version with Sausage, red onion is used.

PASTA ALLO SCARPARIELLO TIME: 1 HOUR SERVES:4

1 lb PASTA (THE TRADITIONAL SHAPES ARE PACCHERI, which i used, SPAGHETTI, BUCATINI, FUSILLI) COOKED AL DENTE ACCORDING TO THE PACKAGE

1 1/2 LBS CHERRY TOMATOES, SLICED

3 TBS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

3 FRESH SWEET FENNEL ITALIAN SAUSAGES, REMOVE THE MEAT FROM THE CASINGS

1 MEDIUM SLICED RED ONION

1/2 TBS PEPERONCINO

1/2 CUP OF MIXED GRATED PARMIGIANO AND PECORINO ROMANO CHEESE, EQUAL AMOUNTS OF BOTH MIXED TOGETHER.

6 BASIL LEAVES

SEA SALT

In a large heavy pan heat 1 tbs. of the Extra Virgin Olive oil…(the most authentic recipes used the same amount of Lard for this). Then add the sausage meat, peperoncino and let this cook until the sausage is no longer red. Add the onion and when the pan is fragrant, add another tbs of olive oil and cook until the onions are soft. Add the tomatoes, pinch of salt, and toss the tomatoes in the sausage, onions, and olive oil. Then reduce to a simmer and COVER the pan. Let this cook for 15 minutes. The tomatoes should melt down into the sausage. While this is happening you will make the Paccheri or Pasta just till al dente. Drain reserving 2 tbs. of the starchy cooking water. Add the pasta to the pan of sauce and mix well. A drizzle of the remaining olive oil then the cheese. Quickly mix the cheese into the pasta and sauce and let this cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat…The cheese should make the surface of the pasta a little “creamy”. Now tear up all the basil over the top and serve. That’s it. A more “authentic” version would be to leave the sausage whole but the loose meat really flavors the sauce. ENJOY!!!

ANOTHER ITALIAN PASTA SAUCE..FROM BASILICATA,SUGO L’INTOPPO

004There couldn’t be a more appetizing picture for me than a pot of any  of Italy’s many tomato based pasta sauces.  Add a regional spin to them and now I’m even more excited.  Today is Sant’Innocenzo Day383468_3036299628876_1304531591_32215781_825528770_n in my paternal grandfather, INNOCENZO SCARAMUZZI’s Southern Italian town of his birth.  He lived in Grassano, Matera, Basilicata until he immigrated to NYC at the age of 25 in 1915.  What better day than September 22 to share a sauce that comes from his region?  FYI, not sure if he ever made this as Basilicata is a region with 2 provinces, Potenza (West) and Matera (East) and this sauce is made in and around both Provinces. Potenza is probably where it’s native to. It’s called in proper Italian… SUGO L’INTOPPO….in Basilicata or Lucanian dialect it’s called ‘NTRUPPC.  Sidebar here for a second…reasons why Italians are always arguing that THEIR version of any is the right one is because there’s never ONE definition, word, or pronunciation ,let’s just nod our heads and say, “I got it.”  Please do not call it a meat sauce or Bolognese or Ragu’Napoletano because there are many similaries in method and ingredients but there are some differences that make it a wonderfully unique regional sauce.  I will, on this patronal feast day remember my grandfather 156142_2992380330921_1304531591_32200242_158577316_n by blogging a wonderful sauce from his region.  What better way for a grandson who cooks and reveres his grandfather’s memory then to blog a new recipe for you all?  Right?  I thought so…Let’s cook.

 

SUGO L’INTOPPO   or  LU ‘NTROPPC…..SAUCE WITH OBSTACLES or A HITCH…what does that mean?  no idea…i’ll guess maybe all the meats in it are being called obstacles SINCE, most Pasta dishes in Italy serve the meats from their sauce as a secondo. Here the meats are served in the pasta so, they are “obstacles” to the pasta…That’s my thoughts and I’m sticking with them. ENJOY!!

1 1/2 LBS SWEET ITALIAN FENNEL SAUSAGE sliced or removed from their casings

1/2 LB STEW BEEF, MINCED

1/4 LB VEAL STEW, MINCED

6 14 oz CANS OF IMPORTED ITALIAN POMODORINI (most come from Potenza which is probably where this sauce originated), or 3 28 oz Cans of San Marzano DOP tomatoes.

1/4 cup OLIVE OIL

2 DICED MEDIUM ONIONS (Don’t even think of adding garlic)

1 TSP PEPERONCINO (DRIED RED CHILE FLAKES)

SEA SALT

HANDFUL OF FRESH BASIL

In a large heavy stock pot heat a 1/2 the olive oil and sear all the meats until they are nicely browned on all sides. Remove to a bowl or platter and add the rest of the olive oil to the pan.  Add the onions and rapidly stir them around..why?The liquid in the onions will release all the nice caramelized bits from the meats at the bottom of the pan.  It will also give the onions some color and flavor.Add some sea salt and the peperoncino.  Slowly cook this until the onions are soft, NOT BROWNED.  When the onions are soft, should take about 10 minutes…then add the tomatoes.  Stir.  Bring to a boil then add the meats, bring down to a simmer.  Add some basil.  Pinch of salt.  Let this simmer for 3 hours stirring occasionally.  Drop in the remaining basil leaves and let the sauce sit for about 2 hours before using. Done.

Now what pasta is most traditional?  STRASCINATI which you can make or buy in good Italian markets and pork stores.  It’s a flour/semolina and water rustic pasta that resembles a stretched out orecchiette or cavatelli.  BTW, in lieu of STRASCINATI orecchiette or cavatelli are fine .plenty of PECORINO ROMANO over the servings.003The finished dish using STRASCINATI I bought in a local Salumeria (Italian Pork Store).  Fantastic!!!

The recipe yields enough sauce for up to 3 lbs of Pasta.

Enjoy this view I snapped while coming down the road from Grassano in 2008.

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PENNETTE CON VERZA, SALSICCE E POMODORINI , A PASTA WITH CABBAGE, SAUSAGE AND CHERRY TOMATOES

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The middle of March brings lots of Cabbage into the grocer’s produce stall for the upcoming St.Patrick’s Day making of Corned Beef and Cabbage.  It’s a winter vegetable and it’s in large supply right now. Did you know that in Italy the word for cabbage is VERZA?  Consider this a lesson in expanding your horizons with regard to what you thing IS or ISN’T Italian.  Cabbage is used throughout Italy especially in the  north of the country yet nowhere  as popular as it is in the Northern and Eastern European nations.  Yet it still shows up in many regional Italian dishes.  This pasta dish I developed is not me recounting a regional dish.  Instead I created it in my kitchen but it is in no way unique, maybe my approach to it is, but Cabbage and Sausage dishes with rice, beans or Pasta are to be found in Italy. One head of cabbage yields quite a bit, especially if it is chopped or shredded.  Let’s have some fun with this dish and you’ll be serving it in your own home real soon!

SERVES:  4 to 6                         TIME: 50 minutes

1 lb. PASTA, my preferred for this dish is PENNETTE

4 SWEET ITALIAN FENNEL SAUSAGES, MEAT REMOVED FROM ITS’ CASINGS

1 MEDIUM ONION FINELY DICED

1 1/2 CUPS FINELY CHOPPED CABBAGE

1 14 oz CAN ITALIAN CHERRY TOMATOES or 1 CUP OF CRUSHED SAN MARZANO TOMATOES

3 TBS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

1/8 CUP DRY WHITE WINE

KOSHER SALT, FRESH GROUND BLACK PEPPER

2 CUPS RICOTTA

1 CUP COARSELY GRATED PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO

In a dutch oven heat 2 tbs of the Olive Oil. then add the onions, a pinch of salt and let them gently cook for a good 5 minutes.  Add the sausage meat, stir and let this cook till the sausage is browned, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the cabbage, a pinch of salt and mix well.  Let this saute’ for 5 minutes, then add the wine.  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and let it cook for 8 minutes.  Now add the tomatoes crushing the whole ones with the back of a spoon. Add salt to taste and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and let this cook down for 35 minutes on medium-low heat.  There should be no hard boiling going on.  At this point the sauce should have good down a bit.  Stir frequently.  Check the sauce for seasoning and thickness, there shouldn’t be a ton of sauce in that pot.  Remove from the heat.  Cook the pasta according to the package directions but only cook until al dente, this is so important. Drain reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water in case you need it. Now add the fully drained pasta to the sauce and return to the heat on low for 5 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of the coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and the remaining tbs. of Olive Oil.  Serve with a side bowl of ricotta, ground black pepper, and more Parmigiano-Reggiano.   A delicious dish with starch, meat, and vegetable all together.

Happy Cooking!!!

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CROSTINI WITH CHERRY TOMATOES AND GOAT CHEESE

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As long as there are tomatoes in season I will be cooking, eating, creating, and blogging about them, no apologies.  Winter will be here soon enough and I’ll be wishing the smell of a sun blessed ripe tomato is punching me in the nose.  Everything about the tomato plant seems special to me, they remind me of growing up, of my Dad and Mom and our big vegetable garden.  They remind me of growing up in Staten Island where not only Italian Americans but it seemed EVERYONE had a tomato they grew themselves that they were proud of.  Gifts of tomatoes in shoeboxes or those old school wooden baskets mushrooms used to come from or a paper bag. They would be filled with different varieties of tomatoes that people proudly grew in their yards.  For as long as I could remember there was an ongoing rivalry between my Dad, Peter (Pietro) Battaglia and my mom’s brother, Uncle Anthony (Tony) Scaramuzzi.  When we would visit their house or they came to ours during the Summer both men would stubbornly argue over who had the biggest, the sweetest, the best, the tastiest, the largest crop and the argument would spill out into their gardens where after awhile they both simmered down and it was back into the house and we were seated around a dining room or kitchen table…eating something that my mom or Aunt Grace Scaramuzzi would make.  By the way, my mom always had a great table of food and lots of it, but Aunt Grace would match that 100 fold..veal cutlets on platters, tomatoes, macaroni, meatballs..these things would all parade out of her kitchen endlessly, effortlessly and lovingly.  Everyone should have had an Aunt Grace. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   Well this love for tomatoes is not only from my 100% Italian DNA but from nuturing.  It was/is the most important item grown in the season and would factor in everything we ate in all 4 seasons.  Interestingly enough the Italian practice of canning the tomatoes at the end of August was not done in our home.  We had tomatoes right thru Oct, although those end of Sept. ones were sometimes pretty homely.  Instead my parents would cook them down thru the season and freeze them. I have zero canning skills, maybe one day I’ll learn.  We also used the Italian plum tomatoes, back then the San Marzanos from Italy were not really available like they are today.  Canned tomatoes, the good brands, are excellent products, don’t ever turn your nose up at them.

Well what are we going to cook/make today?  CROSTINI is what.  Are you confused?  Did you see that picture at top and say..it’s a type of bruschetta he’s making.  No, no it’s not.  When I’m not in the room call it whatever you like, while I’m pontificating here I stick with the hardcore actual terminology.  A Crostini is a thin piece of Italian bread which is toasted, the word really translates to “crouton”. Crostini are generally brushed with olive oil then toasted, then topped with a variety of ingredients.  A BRUSCHETTA is a piece of bread which is toasted over OPEN FIRE, like coals, it is then rubbed with raw garlic, then drizzled with good olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, sometimes topped with greens, cheese, tomatoes or just warmed and served with the garlic and oil. So, WHAT DO YOU MEAN??? BRUSCHETTA IS NOT BRUSCHETTA?  Well yes and no , the American version with the tomato salad topping is sort of a combo of the two Italian toasts.  My style is to give you the real deal, not to knock what we’ve come to know, but simply to give you the info and hope you enjoy the ride. My back is turned now..(I know you are calling it bruschetta…LOL)

Let’s cook , this is an easy one. For 4 people (4 crostini each)  Time: 1 hour

Don’t let the time fool you, you will be prepping the tomatoes and the Goat Cheese first and letting them sit and develop their flavors while toasting  and seasoning the bread.

1 cup softened mild Goat Cheese (if that is not to your palate, use a natural whipped cream cheese)

2 tsp. finely (STRESS FINELY) minced RED ONION

1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/2 tsp fresh squeezed LEMON JUICE

1 1/2 pts ripe CHERRY OR GRAPE TOMATOES, sliced or quartered

Sea Salt

Ground black pepper

2 tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus some for brushing the CROSTINI

4 BASIL leaves sliced into thin strips

2 cups Mixed Baby Greens

16 sliced pieces of Italian bread..no thicker than 1/4 inch.

In a small bowl beat the goat cheese still creamy, then add the lemon juice, pepper, and onion, blend in well.  Cover and set aside.  No salt??? It’s in the cheese,  Taste it.  Think it needs more salt? (since all cheeses are made differently) Then add more salt, not too much but only you know that.  Instead of giving you a recipe where you salt, then taste then say..this stinks..now it’s too salty, this method works for me.  I can’t gauge the saltiness of whatever cheese you are using so, mix, blend, taste then salt if you need to.

Slice or Quarter the tomatoes in a bowl.  Add the Olive Oil, salt and basil. Mix.  TASTE. Leave this loosely covered also, along with the cheese for about 45 minutes.  Flavors are getting happy now.  If you eat it at this point, it will never be as good as leaving it to blossom.  Big kitchen tip for you there.  Let the flavors develop.

NOTE: Big mistake when people make Crostini/Bruschetta..the bread is cut too thick.  Between the topping and the toasting when it’s too thick you bite into it and it collapses onto that nice piece of clothing you are wearing, or onto the floor or onto the furniture.  A thinner piece is not only safer is more elegant)  Brush the tops and bottoms of each one with just a bit of olive oil..we don’t want to make grease bombs out of these.  Toast on a baking sheet for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Rotate them at the 7 1/2 minute mark. If you see browning before the 15 minutes is over remove them. Let them cool on a rack.

Now, spread the tops of the crostini with no more than 1/8 or less of the cheese.  Arrange on a bed of Mixed baby greens. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Now spoon the tomatoes and their juices over the tops of the crostini letting each one get a nice amount of the tomatoes and the juices should spill over the crostini and onto the greens underneath. Finish off with a good grinding of black pepper and a light sprinkle of sea salt on top.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  There you go.  Summer on a plate, a full meal as is (yes, a full meal!) or a party or dinner party platter, a starter, something to fill a buffet table up with but absolutely a bomb of subtle flavors.  Are you wondering WHERE’S THE GARLIC??? or more ONION in the Tomato mix?  Here’s my opinion on this..you already have the delicious onion flavor in the goat cheese, why have that fighting with garlic or onion in the tomato? Let the tomato, olive oil and Basil be the start of that show.  It’s balance.  American Italian food too often is excessive everything and dishes become one note affairs.  Try it my way, just once..I think you’ll be hooked.  If not, chop 2 cloves of garlic into the tomato too and enjoy..but try it this way..Happy Cooking!

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A SAUCE OF CHERRY TOMATOES AND RED ONIONS FOR PASTA AND FERRAGOSTO MEMORIES

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August 15 is a special day…it’s the major secular and religious Italian holiday known as FERRAGOSTO, the public holiday where the whole country takes off.  Trust me, I know.  We were in Southern Italy (Basilicata to be exact) on August 15, 2006 and there wasn’t a store or business open.  An ancient holdover from Roman Times it’s a day to hang with one’s family and friends doing all sorts of Summer things, of course eating is a very Italian pastime so there is much feasting that goes on.  On the religious side it’s also the Feast of the Assumption, known as LA FESTA DELL’ASSUNTA, a day for church going and honoring the Mother of Christ and all those who are named ASSUNTA.  Here’s my family angle to this story, it was my beloved mother’s name, ASSUNTA SCARAMUZZI BATTAGLIA, although as with many Italian-American people of her generation there was an American name that sort of corresponded with it and that was Susan.  scan0001 There’s a treasured  picture from my vast photo archives that I took of my mom on August 15, 1976 with my new Honeywell Pentax (got it for my high school graduation) of Mom cutting a Cassata cake (a Sicilian ricotta cream filled sponge cake with fondant and candied Sicilian fruits around it) for her “name day”.  Italians not only celebrate a birthday, we also celebrate the feast day of the Saint you were named after.  That sure is a special picture.  Although my mom used Susan most of the time back in the 70’s when wearing a gold first name initial, usually with a diamond on it became real popular. My Dad bought one S for my mom.  Her mother , Grandma Scaramuzzi took one look at it and said.. in her Avellino-Naples accent “S ???    What’s this S??? Your name starts with an A” .  Never disagree with your mother. Here a better view of the cake, and it’s my favorite cake, still favored for special occasions by me so if you ever wonder what kind of cake to get me, this is it.

scan0002  Don’t you love the Demitasse cups for the Italian coffee?  Notice the paper plates though..Mom was in Summertime mode..didn’t want to wash any dishes so she pulled out the paper plates. No company was over, just us, so no need to fuss.

This sauce we will discuss here has zero to do with FERRAGOSTO and/or August 15.  Yet, my mother’s many types of pasta sauces with tomatoes is the tie in, she loved a tomato sauce with onions in it, sort of a Marinara, although that was generally tomatoes and garlic.  Whether it’s genetics or just from mom making those sauces I too love a sauce with an infusion of delicious sauteed onions sometimes and the other night, having an overload of red onions I decided to tweak my usual tomato/onion sauce.  In the pantry was a can of POMODORINI, imported Italian Cherry tomatoes, 15 oz can and they generally cook up quicker than a 28 oz can of San Marzanos.  Simma down, I love my San Marzanos above all but right underneath I love these canned Cherry tomatoes and they are very popular in Italy.  Let’s start cooking the sauce for the pasta now.

Serves 4        Takes: about 45 minutes

Sauces one lb of pasta

1 15 oz can of POMODORINI, Imported Italian Cherry Tomatoes..try finding these in an ItalianDeli, Salumeria, Italian Market, your local Supermarkets or online..or use a can of Imported Italian San Marzanos or Plum tomatoes but really, the sauce rocks it with the pomodorini.  OR 2 pts of cleaned and sliced ripe cherry tomatoes.

4 tbs of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

pinch of oregano

salt, pepper

1/8 cup White Wine

1 large red onion FINELY DICED! can’t stress that enough.

1 lb pasta with indentations or holes, like Creste di Gallo, Orecchiette, Medium Shells, Casareccie, Farfalle, Mezzi Rigatoni, Pipette and cook till Al Dente according to package directions. As always the dish will rise on the merits of your ingredients.  Store brand pasta will not ever taste as good as an Imported Italian or premium US brand like a Barilla.  It’s only a 2.00 difference at most and you’ll be glad you did.

plenty of freshly grated PECORINO ROMANO

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan heat the olive oil, seems like a lot but it’s necessary for the taste and the cooking of the onions.  Add the onions and season with salt and the oregano.  The onions need to get soft but you want to draw out moisture and let them intensify in flavor.  Cook them on medium for 8 minutes, stirring frequently, you don’t want them to brown.  Then add the wine slowly. Stir.  Smell that!! WOW…it’s an amazing fragrance!  Let this cook for another 8 minutes on medium low.  Taste an onion bit and see if it’s soft now because if you add the tomato before the onions soften in the oil, they will pretty much stay hard, only add the tomato when the onions are soft.  Stir and let this simmer for 20 minutes.Taste the sauce for seasoning (Salt and pepper at this time).

When it’s thickened, cook and drain the pasta and add the al dente pasta to the pot with the sauce.  Coat well. Let this cook for 1 minute then remove from the heat.  Drizzle with a little more of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil and about 1/4 cup of the grated PECORINO.  Blend well.  Done.  No, there is no extra sauce on the side (I’m giving you ITALIAN tips here so work with me…lol..it’s not a pasta dish swimming in excess sauce, the concentrated flavors are carried by the tomato and the olive oil…).

Let me add that there is NO ONE WAY TO MAKE A POT OF PASTA AND SAUCE.  There’s Sunday Sauce, There’s Bolognese Sauce, there’s Meat Sauce, there’s Amatriciana Sauce, there’s Carbonara sauce, there’s  etc etc etc.  And certainly there is NO one tomato sauce for pasta. I hope this stroll down my family memory lane, the smells and tastes of our dinner table give you as much joy making and eating this as it’s given me my whole life.  Happy Cooking!!

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SIMPLE FOODS MAKE EXTRAORDINARY DISHES

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One of the pleasures of eating aside from it being necessary nourishment is the taste. Most foods are delicious. I will not bore you with all the ones that I don’t think taste good but certainly will talk about a few that when paired together are perfection. Fresh mozzarella or creamy burrata paper with seasonal tomatoes, olive oil, herbs, olives,greens. There are so many variations like the delicious Caprese. Tonight we enjoyed a plate that so simple and substantial enough for it to be a starter or entree.
Crushed Piennolo tomatoes from Campania were mashed with basil and olive oil on whole wheat crostini and served with briny black oil cured olives from Gaeta and Burrata made with Buffalo milk in Campania. Heyyyy. One minute. You are thinking simple. That’s a whole bunch of sourcing going on there. You are correct. This was a great plate made with great ingredients. However this is not practical for most so here is what you do. Find a good fresh mozzarella or burrata in your area. Leave it at room temperature the day you are serving it. In some warm olive oil slowly melt down a pint of ripe grape tomatoes simply add some salt. Toast 8 slices of good country style Italian bread on both sides. Top each with a drizzle of olive oil then spread with the tomatoes. On a platter cover the bottom with rinsed and dried baby arugula. Place the crostini at on end. The mozzarella or burrata in the middle. Garnish with pitted Gaeta olives or a good oil cured black olives. Add some torn basil over the crostini. This serves about 4. Enjoy this treat as much as I enjoyed this platter at Obika Mozzarella Bar in London England.

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