Italian Archive

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

linguine with tomato-almond pesto

linguine with tomato almond pesto

We are dragging this summer out. Maybe it’s because as far as I am concerned, it didn’t really start until August, when the bulk of the heat wave was behind us and we willingly ventured outside of our air-conditioned caves again, and when we finally took a little family vacation. Maybe it’s because if it is still summer, the baby is still a baby and not a one year-old toddler as he will be after this weekend. But it is most likely because we headed down the Garden State Parkway to Exit 0 last weekend for a belated 5 year anniversary mini-vacation without said baby and somehow, well into September, still got sun, sand and freckles. Summer in September? I’ll take it.



Despite the fact that the calendar may suggest fall clothes and butternut squash, the markets are still flooded with tomatoes. But, honestly, it wasn’t a sense of practicality that led me to this recipe. I mean sure, I had almonds, I also had precisely six plum tomatoes that needed to get eaten and I even had the slim margin of time needed to throw this together before starting the surprisingly exhausting dinner-bath-bed cycle for the boo. But that’s still not why I made it.

tomato, almonds, basil
to process

Continued after the jump »

Monday, August 30, 2010

fresh tomato sauce

fresh tomato sauce

Around this time every summer, I see the best signs at the markets: “Ugly but tasty!” “Pretty on the inside!” “Don’t judge a tomato by its cover!” Beneath them are usually buckets of craggly misshapen tomato beasts, with coarse seams like they’d been stitched back together after some rough past and distinctly un-heirloom colors. At prices like a dollar a pound, obviously, they were destined for sauce.

matersmake an Xinto boiling watereasy peeling

But how to turn a bucket of awesome into a mindbogglingly delicious tomato sauce? I really thought I had it down. A few weeks ago, I hauled home six pounds for six bucks and me and my assistant proceeded to cook them down, and cook them down and wow, am I still cooking three hours later? Right, I forgot to seed them. And the seeds imparted this almost bitterish tinge. And I realized that I didn’t bring these cheap tomatoes home very often because I wasn’t that confident I could turn them into what I wanted to. Obviously, I was poised for an intervention.

naked tomatoeshalved, but they should be quarteredsqueezing out the seedsroughly chopped

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, February 27, 2010

baked rigatoni with tiny meatballs

tiny meatballs, baked rigatoni

Did you hear a resounding whine/sigh/moan the volume of the entire Eastern seaboard? Because there’s a fresh foot of snow outside for the 200th time this year and friends, I love snow. I get so excited when it is going to snow. But this? Lacks charm, likely because the first day of this anticipated four day storm was three to four inches of mucky slush.

sleet day

Anyway, I still maintain that complaining about the weather is dull, thus if any one good thing can come of this, it is that pasta, meatball and cream sauce season just got extended by at least another weekend. After the excitement over Marcella Hazan last month, I wanted to share a recipe from her on the opposite end of the spectrum, sort of the Italian version of Italian-American baked ziti. Except, the ziti is rigatoni, which she insists holds up better to being cooked twice (plus has large hollows that nicely slurp up their surroundings). The red sauce is a white sauce. The cheese is subtle and oh, there are wee meatballs scattered everywhere.

about to make the meatballstiny meatballs, one dredged in flourshaking off excess flourbrowning the wee meatballs

Continued after the jump »

Friday, February 12, 2010

spaghetti with cheese + black pepper

black pepper and cheese spaghetti

Alex and I had an accidental date a few weeks ago, accidental in that we set out to take a walk but the conversation quickly turned to “I wonder if we could get a table at Lupa.” The answer, by the way, should be no. One can never get a table at Lupa. They don’t take many reservations, they’re not very big and just about everyone in New York City loves to drop in there for a meal. It is for this pile of reasons that we’ve never been. Or we never had been. Because that evening, there was exactly one eensy little table free and there we were, having an impromptu dinner out on a weekday night, something that would have been nothing out of the ordinary, say, five months ago but as parents to a young dough ball, it was nothing short of earth shattering.

lots of freshly, finely ground black pepper
finely grated romano

I ordered a beer and the spaghetti, well, the bavette or linguini fini, but for the purpose of this story, it will be spaghetti because it was just that humble. When I trust that a place won’t disappoint, I have a tendency to order the plainest thing on the menu, hearkening back to my deep-seated belief that great chefs make you wonder why you’ve wasting so much time with gimmicky sea salts and foie anything when you could be eating a perfect bowl of spaghetti. And this cacio e pepe? It sang to me. Well, sang and then admonished, as food often does in my presence, “seriously, lady, why haven’t you made this yet?”

spaghetti, al denteish

Continued after the jump »

Sunday, January 17, 2010

tomato sauce with onion and butter

tomato sauce with butter and onion

I could no longer resist this sauce, and frankly, I don’t know why I even tried to: food bloggers obsess over it, and they’re not a bad lot to base a recipe selection upon. Adam of Amateur Gourmet fell for it five years ago. Molly at Orangette raved about it over two years ago, with a bonus approval marking from Luisa at Wednesday Chef. Then Rachel Eats fawned over it too, and Rachel, you see, she lives in Rome right now — I want to be in Rome right now — Rome, where you can get authentic, perfect tomato sauce a zillion places every single day. And yet she stayed in and made this one. That sealed the deal.

tomatoes + onion + butter
telephone cord pasta

So what is it with this sauce that it moves people to essays over it, tossing about exclamations like “brilliant!” and “va-va-voom” and promises that “something almost magical happens”? Is it garlic, a slip of red pepper flakes, a glug of red wine or a base of mulched carrots, onion and celery, as so many of us swear by in our best sauce efforts? Is it a spoonful of tomato paste or a pinch of sugar? Is it the best olive oil money can buy? It is none of these things, not a single one: It is butter. And an halved onion, cooked slowly as the sauce plops and glurps on the stove, then discarded when it is done.

love these tomatoes

Continued after the jump »


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