“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.” Federico Fellini
Being Italian there are certain things expected of you. So, okay, you love life and live it fully. You like wine, and drink it religiously. You like food, and eat it heartily. But there is more to it than that. For example, you not only talk with your hands, you keep your hands busy all day. We believe that idle hands are the devil’s workshop, so you have to stay busy. One of the ways to do that is gardening. There is a playbook somewhere that explicitly states that, to maintain your standing as an Italian, you must grow certain things, most importantly tomatoes and basil. Any genuine Italian garden contains these two things. If not you can lose your membership and be ostracized from the community.
Now, this can present a problem. A good harvest means a lot of work in the kitchen. Tomato salad with olive oil, basil, garlic and onion, or a greens salad with tomatoes. The list goes on. But one of the best is a fresh tomato sauce made from fresh tomatoes from the garden. Not only does it taste great, it makes the house smell equally great. Makes a house a home. Best part, it is so easy. So, here is our recipe. Take your time and see for yourself how good it is.
Fresh, ripe tomatoes, preferably plum tomatoes but don’t quibble
Salt to taste
Red wine…(never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink so don’t be afraid to sample some)
Remove the stem from the tomatoes and discard. Cut the tomatoes into cubes and set aside.
As with all good Italian recipes, begin by browning the diced garlic in some olive oil. Don’t burn it. Just a little brown. Then add some diced onion and sweat that down a bit. Add some red wine, about ½ cup and let that all meld together. The alcohol will cook away leaving you with a colorful sediment in the pot.
Add the tomatoes. Now, if you’d like, you can get rid of the skins by boiling the whole, scored tomato for a few seconds and peeling the skin off. I like to leave the skin on though because I think it just makes for a better texture. Bring that to a slow simmer and salt to taste. If you use say a beefsteak tomato, as I did, your sauce will be thinner than if you use plum tomatoes. But, you can thicken it up a little by leaving the lid off the pot for a while. Add the most important ingredients now, which are equal amounts of time and patience. Let it cook slowly and gently.
I used spinach pasta for this, mostly because we like it every once in a while. It is usually available at the markets here and can be kind of expensive. But every once in a while you can splurge. It cooks up firm in about 5-7 minutes and it looks great on the plate. Add the strained pasta to your sauce and let it rest for a few minutes so that it soaks up your sauce. You can also vary this sauce by browning sausage or pancetta in the olive oil and letting that cook in the sauce. Takes a little longer, but again, well worth the trouble. Plate it and wait for the compliments.
There you have it. Simple. Basic and always delicious with a welcome home aroma that will call everyone to dinner.