a Roman holiday: tomato pasta my way

by Stevie on May 2, 2009

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I simply adore Italy: the people, the food and wine, the long and glorious history and culture, the art. It blows my mind. I hope to live there for a while some day. I love cooking Italian food too. It’s often fairly straightforward. The cuisine tends to stick to the basics; emphasizing the ingredients instead of smothering things in wild, almost incomprehensible, flavors and sauces. Much of it can be made quickly, is good for family style service and is usually popular with diners.

my tomato pasta

my tomato pasta

This recipe is based upon one from my bubbly friend, Kristen. She went on a trip years ago to Greece, by chance met an Italian from the outskirts of Rome, and ended up moving to Italy for several years. So lucky!!! It’s a very romantic story, and practical too. Not only did she learn fluent Italian, but she also learned to cook the local foods. What follows is my take on her “Roman” tomato sauce for pasta. This is quick to make; only about 20 or 30 minutes, so is great on Friday evening when you’re tired from work but still want to do some casual entertaining. All measurements are approximate. I encourage you to mix and match ingredients to your taste.

28oz can of diced peeled tomatoes
3 to 4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
4 to 5 fillets anchovies or two to three sardines (optional)
3 peeled fresh garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
3 dry red pepperoncini, broken (or crushed red pepper) to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
salt to taste
1 tsp dried oregano or basil; 1 tbs if fresh
12 kalamata or similar olives, pitted and cut in halves
1 package spaghetti or other long pasta, cooked al dente
grated parmigiano reggiano cheese to taste (optional)

Start water boiling for pasta. While water is heating, in separate pan, add olive oil, garlic and anchovies or sardines. (If you prefer more chunks of fish, add it towards the end of cooking process. Leave this out for vegetarian version.) Once oil is hot and garlic starts to cook (about one minute) add tomato, peppers, salt, bay leaves and dry herbs (if using). Simmer for about 15 to 20 min covered. During simmering process, cook pasta. Just before serving use tongs to remove garlic cloves, bay leaves and large pieces of pepperoncini, if using. Add olives and herbs (if using fresh). Toss pasta in sauce in pan. Serve on individual plates or in large serving bowl. Add parmigiano. Makes about four large or six small servings.

Cotes du Rhone Villages Perrin et Fils 2007

Cotes du Rhone Villages Perrin et Fils 2007

I like to serve this with leafy salad in vinaigrette and hearty red wine, perhaps valpollacella. When we had this last night though, we cracked out a 2007 Cotes du Rhone Villages Perrin et Fils. H thought that it had a deep ruby color, was dry and a little spicy on the finish. S thought that it was plummy and very fruit-forward with a long finish with delicate tannins. The wine matched really well with this dish.

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Jasime Turner June 5, 2009 at 11:01 am

Weirdos? Are you there? I am going to make this pasta tonight! I have all my ingredients ready but I’m going to buy some peppers! Yay! Thanks for publishing this, hopefully my husband will like it, and I will serve it with a 2007 Valpolicella Mero! Have a great Friday!

Heguiberto June 5, 2009 at 3:11 pm

we are sure you both will enjoy it. come back and let us know how you liked it! Happy Friday

Jasmine Turner June 6, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Oh my goodness, this recipe is the bomb! I enjoyed cooking it while drinking and adding some organic red wine to the sauce while listening to loud Brazillian music. I used more garlic than you require but hey that’s me! I added canned artichoke hearts and onions too. It was really good and my husband really liked it, but he added a little white Alfredo sauce from “whole paycheck!” He needs to balance out the acid of the tomatoes. His sauce was sort of a hybrid of yours. We cracked open the Valpolicella Mero and it went nicely. It was perfect Friday night dinner.

Rita Tower June 22, 2009 at 12:22 pm

I tried the recipe and added more garlic like Jasmine too, and it was so good, but I used organic Trader Joes pasta and it even tastes good the next day for leftovers. Good work WC’s. I will continue to make this recipe and tweek it around a bit!

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