Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pasta de Italia

Here is the thing. I haven't updated in a really long time. Which isn't to say I haven't thought about updating. I just haven't done it. Also, I am removing all the side bar links because I haven't been keeping up with them. I have, of course, still been exercising. But I want to do that for me, and not for the online world. As for the book link and the outfit link-- I'm just too lazy to update it. I'll be honest. 

I hate grocery shopping. I hate it with an all abiding passion, sort of like I hate doing laundry. So when I do go grocery shopping, I get enough food to last a minimum of two weeks. We are on a strict food budget, and it is a little bit fun to stay within those bounds, but mostly I'll put off the inevitable for as long as possible. In fact, before I went shopping yesterday, it had been over three weeks since my last trip. That being said, I got real creative with meals for the past six days or so as we slowly used up everything we had left. This particular meal though is one that we continuously go back to whenever we are super low on food. And, it is a direct tie back to my days in Italy. It is amazingly easy, incredibly tasty, and takes precisely 6 ingredients. If you count crushed, dried red peppers as an ingredient, which I hardly do. 

   Once upon a time, I went to the small clifftop town of Orvieto to study for four months. Before it got very cold, it was very warm. And it was grape season. So one day, my young and excited self went grape picking with my young and excited classmates. We were probably very little use, but the Italians who owned the orchard were kind enough to let us inexpertly and clumsily pick grapes to our hearts content. Afterwards, our Italian teacher Allessandro whipped together what was quite literally the most delicious tomato sauce I had ever had in all my days. And, he did it all over a single flamed propane tank. After eating 27 plates of it, I asked him how he made it. He looked at me with confusion and said, "Tomato's and olive oil and garlic." "Yes" I said, "But what else?" He paused. "Salt?" And I sighed, because obviously he was lying to me and keeping the recipe a secret for himself.

There I am with my friends, singing for my supper.
Also, while perusing for the above photo I found this one of Baby Alice (my now enormous cat) and could anything be more adorable? No. I don't think so.

Anyway. When I came home to America I tried a million different (complicated) sauce recipes and never got close. Until one day, while babysitting, I tasted a noodle from the pot of tomato pasta for the kids. And there it was. It was The Sauce. I nearly fainted. And I asked for the recipe. And lo and behold....Allessandro told me the truth.

Easy. Delicious. Authentic. And SO CHEAP its silly. I call it Pasta de Italia (or maybe I should call it Pasta de Allessandro) but you can call it pasta with tomato sauce if you like.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1/2 box of ziti
1.5 tbs olive oil
1 large can of whole plum tomatoes (I think its 48 oz)
6 cloves garlic, smashed
3 pepperoncini's (these are a special dried whole pepper that the Wonderful Babysitting Mother Cook gave me but you could use 1/4 tsp of crushed dried red peppers)
A hearty palmful of salt (malto importante)

See? Six ingredients. 

First, put the pasta water on to boil, and salt it well. Then, heat the olive oil in a skillet. Smash the garlic, and add it to the hot oil along with the pepperoncini's. You can put them in whole, but I tend to crush them. This makes it almost too spicy for Nick, but perfect for me. 
(that garlic is smashed.)
While the garlic turns golden, puree the can of whole tomatoes a little in a food processor or blender. You want it to have a little chunk left to it.
Once the garlic is golden, pour the tomatoes into the pan. 

Next comes the salt. You need to not be shy about this part...Salt brings out the flavor of tomatoes, and its a key ingredient for the 'authentic' flavor.
Stir it up and simmer the sauce. Cook the ziti until it is just al dente, then pour it into the pan.
Stir it up, serve it up, and top it with some fresh Parmesan cheese.
Truly, this is so delicious. What could be easier? Maybe not even boxed mac and cheese...and it'll make you feel like you're picking grapes in the hot Italian sun at the foot of a cliff top fortress town in Umbria...

And maybe if you go to watch the Patriots lose horrifically right afterwards with your husband, it will soften the blow.

I have lots more recipes already made and pictured (on my camera) so I'll be back soon.

Happy Hump day to those of you who don't work on Saturdays! Hopefully the temperature will manage to reach above 13...this morning when it was a casual 9 degrees in Maine, I took Lupe on a run. I thought that every one of my extremities were going to fall off and I think I know now what frost bite feels like. 

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