Italian Cherry Tomato Sauce Recipe for Pasta; Garlic with Spaghetti, and Onion with Fettucine!
Cherry Tomatoes for Pasta Sauce
Italian Cherry Tomato Sauce for Spaghetti and Fettuccine
Sunshine on Your Tastebuds.
Here in Southern Tuscany, hard on the heel of tradition, if you make a spaghetti sauce with cherry tomatoes, you need to make it with finely chopped garlic. If you make a fettuccine sauce (or other egg noodle) your need very, very finely chopped onion instead.
By now, all the summer and late summer pulpy san marzano tomatoes have been harvested and canned. Our jars, here in our farmhouse in the Maremma (Italy) are stacked in the barns downstairs; we'll be using them through the winter for minestrone, for fish sauces, all sorts of sauces, even as a simple tomato sauce. We really relish a plate of pasta over Christmas with a sauce made from our own tomatoes. It breaks from all those rich 'holiday' dishes. It's a ray of sunshine on the taste buds.
But, since there are so many lovely fresh red cherry tomatoes out on the shelves right now, between the squash, the root vegetables and green leaved ones, I find it hard to pass them over. I just feel like tasting some zing again. Am I the only one, or don't you, want to remember how sweet the summer was, again? And again?
There are a few secrets here in Maremma to making a fresh cherry tomato pasta sauce really, really good. This is authentic Italian cooking my neighbor farming housewives taught me when we came to live here 27 years ago - and as always it is simple; the secret to it's fine taste is in the fresh quality of the produce, its preparation (meticulous) and always - in the timing!
Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce
Spaghetti Sauce and Fettucine Sauce.
For the most authentic taste, try to buy the reddest cherry tomatoes you can find. Or buy them red and let them turn redder by putting them in a bowl somewhere outside the refrigerator. They can even look a bit old when you use them. Trying to describe the best red color the tomatoes can be, I came up with 'Science Fiction Red' because of that metallic hue you notice shine off their skins. THAT's the red, though I bet no one's going to turn your platter down if they are just a red RED!.
It makes a keen difference but if you make a spaghetti sauce with cherry tomatoes, you need to make it with finely chopped garlic.
If you make a fettuccine sauce (or other egg noodle) with the tomatoes, then your sauce needs to be made with a very, very finely chopped onion.
fettuccine (egg noodle pasta) needs onion
Pasta Serving Dish
How to Make the Sauces
So here follows how to make the sauces. Either one is extremely simple to make and takes no time at all. In fact you put your large pan of water on to boil, salt it the way you like, light up and in the time it takes to come to a boil you can make the sauce. And set the table. And light the candles.
Ingredients for a pasta sauce for 2-4 people:
1lb cherry tomatoes, 4/5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, pepperoncino to taste, salt. (parmigiano optional)...either half a small onion, or a few cloves of garlic.
You wash your cherry tomatoes and dry them very well. You don't want excess water at all.
Cut them in half, squeeze excess tomato juice out of them.
If you are making spaghetti finely chop up your garlic.
If you are making fettuccine, finely chop up your onion (red one is the best)
Put a shallow pan on the cooker, pour several tablespoons of virgin olive oil in and heat it up.
Toss in either your onion or your garlic with some chilli pepper (if you like it spicy). Cook it a minute, but don't brown the onion or the garlic!
Add the halved cherry tomatoes and salt to taste and cook quite quickly till the peels come off, turning quite a lot. It takes no more than about 5 minutes-8 minutes. Small holes bubble in the sauce. It's done then, not before.
It all has to be made quickly - to keep the very fresh tomato taste, (which is why you drained the tomatoes at the start). If the tomatoes are too liquidy, then they need to cook for longer and if you cook for longer, then you will lose the fresh taste. Add a few leaves of fresh basil if you have it. (Nice to have a pot growing through the winter, just for this!)
Pass through a sieve (if the peel bothers you).
Drain your pasta, (please don't overcook it), quickly toss it into your beautiful serving bowl and deftly, quickly pour your tomato sauce over it and mix well.
Serve. If you are serving spaghetti, then you don't really need parmigiano (here in Maremma, we don't use it when we cook with garlic, as a rule). We tend to make the sauce hotter with pepperoncino, but that is a preference.
If you are serving fettuccine, then yes, Parmigiano is very good!
A bottle of chilled mineral water is perfect with this meal. As is a chilled glass of Vermentino white wine (something very light and summery).
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© 2011 Penelope Hart
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