Monday, September 12, 2011

Book Fifty: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

by Marcella Hazan

        Tomato Sauce with Garlic and Basil

Once again feeling a bit guilty for choosing such an easy recipe. I always feel that for blogging purposes I should opt for a more elaborate recipe to post. Simple however can be good or better than some of the more intricate and time consuming recipes.

I don't know what it is about restaurants, they always serve the pasta swimming in sauce - and this I am not a fan of. I prefer my pasta to have a light coating of sauce; so it needs to have bold flavor. You can not go wrong with fresh basil and garlic; and in my case a bit of chili pepper for heat. The recipe does not call for chili pepper, but I do like my food spicy so I added a homegrown Thai Chili.

Marcella instructs you to tear the basil leaves into small pieces. I resisted the urge to julienne them and tore them as instructed - a bit tedious; I would julienne them. To julienne basil, you stack several leaves together, roll and slice. Much faster than tearing each leaf into pieces.

Having to peel the tomatoes may sound tedious, but really there is no effort involved. To do this you just boil the tomatoes for about one minute or less (until the skin cracks), drain them, and as soon as they are cool enough to handle,  slide the skin off - and they do slide off effortlessly. Do be careful chopping the tomatoes, for they are a bit slippery without their skins.

(Edit: This is even better the next day!!)

Success meter (1-3): 3

Tomato Sauce with Garlic and Basil
Serves 4

1 large bunch fresh basil
2 lbs fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled or 2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes,
drained and cut up.
5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine
5 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
1 lb pasta

Note: Do not be alarmed by the amount of garlic this recipe requires. Because it simmers in the sauce, it is poached, rather than browned, and its flavor is very subdued.

Recommended pasta:  The ideal shape for tomato alla carrettiera is thin spaghetti-spaghettini-but regular spaghetti would also be satisfactory.

1.   Pull all the basil leaves from the stalks, rinse them briefly in cold water, and shake off all the moisture using a colander, a salad spinner, or simply by gathering the basil loosely in a dry cloth towel and shaking it two or three times. Tear all but the tiniest leaves by hand into small pieces.
2.   Put the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt, and several grindings of pepper into a saucepan, and turn on the heat to medium high. Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the oil floats free from the tomato. Taste and correct for salt.
3.   Off heat, as soon as the sauce is done, mix in the torn-up basil, keeping aside a few pieces to add when tossing the pasta.

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking/Marcella Hazan

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