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Ann's Italy Food Journal - Part One  Ann's Italy Food Journal - Part Two    Judy's Italy Food Journal The Reluctant Parisienne    


Ann's Italy Food Journal - Part Two

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San Marzano TomatoesSilvia continued to share her culinary adventures in a very animated way which only emphasized her passion for good food and cooking. She shared her recipe for a pasta sauce made with fresh San Marzano tomatoes that is a favorite of her husband and many of her friends.  I could almost taste them from the way Silvia was talking about these tomatoes but I didn't have an actual taste until we returned to Rome a few days later. In hindsight, remembering how the customs agent waived us through without checking our luggage for "contraband" I wish I had "smuggled" a few pounds in my suitcase to have one last taste of fresh San Marzano tomatoes at home. 

Note that there are no specific quantities for Silvia's recipe except for the approximate number of tomatoes to use  - use your instincts and taste as to how much of the remaining ingredients to add  - that's how the Italians cook...with all of their senses! 

Silvia's Fresh Tomato Sauce with Pasta

very ripe, whole San Marzano if you're cooking in Italy or use fresh Roma (plum) tomatoes, as ripe as possible.  Cut an "X" in the tip of each tomato - this will aid in removing the skins. 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Dried short pasta  (use either penne, ziti, rigatoni etc.)

Dried Red Pepper Flakes and salt to taste
Fresh Basil - torn into small bits
Fresh Garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Bring water to a rapid boil for the pasta in a large stock pot - then add salt (if using 6 quarts of water add at least 2 tablespoons of salt) dried pasta AND the whole tomatoes.  Cook approximately 4 to 5 minutes and when tomatoes look as if their skins are coming loose, remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a serving bowl.  Continue to cook the pasta for the time recommended on the package or for as long as you prefer until done to your taste.

When tomatoes have slightly cooled, use your fingers or the tip of a paring knife and remove the tomato skins and discard.  In a large shallow serving bowl, coarsely mash the tomatoes with a fork; add olive oil to coat the tomatoes and when you think you've added enough olive oil.... add another drizzle.  Sprinkle on the red pepper flakes, salt, torn basil and fresh garlic slices.   In the meantime, don't forget to taste the pasta as its cooking to see if it's done to your taste.

By this time the pasta should be cooked; reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and then drain pasta in a colander and immediately add the drained pasta to the fresh tomato sauce - toss together with the sauce and if the dish looks a bit dry, drizzle on some of the pasta water and toss again.  Taste the mixture and if necessary,  add more of the seasonings to your taste.

Number of servings?  Depends on how much pasta you've cooked!  The general rule is one pound of dried pasta for 4 Secondo (main dish servings) or 6 Primo (first course) servings.

When I asked Silvia if she served Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheeses grated on this dish, she said she doesn't serve either one - apparently the fresh tomato sauce with the San Marzano tomatoes is so intensely flavorful, there is no need for grated cheese to be added to this dish.  But I promise not to tell Silvia if you want to shave either of these cheeses on your pasta!

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NYC Culinary Tour  Ann's Italy Food Journal - Part One Ann's Italy Food Journal - Part Two Judy's Italy Food Journal The Reluctant Parisienne