Saturday, August 22, 2009
We have taken to eating tomatoes with every meal. It's really not that difficult: a slice on a bagel in the morning, chopped with cottage cheese midday, and then several courses at dinner. A conveniently placed bowl of cherries and grapes makes for great snacking, too. After blanching, freezing, and roasting this summer's bounty, I was ready for some simple satisfaction - Salsa di Pomodoro Crudo, or uncooked Tomato Sauce. I've been making this in different incarnations for years. On an oppressive summer day it can provide wonderful satisfaction, but it also has the potential to disappoint. Note to self: a little care goes a long way in a simple dish with perfect, seasonal ingredients.
One way I am improving all of my pasta dishes is by using Setaro pasta, which is made in Torre Annunziata, a province of Naples. It's made according to old world traditions with semolina flour and water from Mount Vesuvius. Well, that must be why it is so delicious! I first purchased it at Buon Italia in the Chelsea Market in New York during a trip to see "Hair," and this week I had it shipped to Philly. The folks at Buon Italia must understand food cravings because it arrived in two days, which feels like less time than it is taking me to write this post.
In a nod to Franca, the lovely and gifted matriarch of the family that owns one of our favorite local restaurants, Tre Scalini, I have been using more pasta alla chitarra. It feels fancier than spaghetti and really does absorb more sauce.
Earlier in the week the bunch of basil from the Northern Liberties Wednesday Farmer's Market was looking pretty sad, and the pine nuts had not been a in a cool, dark place, so I made some "almost" pesto. Actually, it wasn't pesto at all, just lightly processed basil and Chateau Calissanne extra virgin olive oil. I put it in the refrigerator hoping to buy a little time. It was perfect here and also in quinoa salad.
Some recipes recommend that the chopped tomatoes rest for as little as 30 minutes, but I let them "relax" for over 3 hours. I tend to use too much garlic, so I really held myself back here.
The dishwasher/wine guy/my sweetheart proclaimed this the "best ever." He also did a fabulous job pairing it with Le Roc rosé from Moore Brothers, of course.
Salsa di Pomodoro Crudo
2-3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch of sea salt
basil in oil, at room temperature
Setaro spaghetti chitarra, about 1/2 lb
Locatelli cheese (optional, but recommended)
Combine tomatoes, garlic and salt in a large bowl. Let them nap for a few hours. Bring cheese and basil to room temperature. Add basil and pepper just before serving.
Cook pasta according to the directions, which I believe roughly translate, "it's done when it's done." 9-10 minutes should do. Gently remove pasta from water with tongs or a spider and place right in the tomato mixture. Add a little pasta water if necessary. A little bit of basil and olive oil added to each plate before serving makes a nice presentation. Grate cheese at table, if you like.