Spaghetti al pomodoro fresco. An Italian recipe, by our friend Valeria Necchio
The most beautiful part of our job is to meet people around the world in love with Italian food as much as we are. About a year ago, we stumbled upon a blog and we fell in love right away. Since we are curious and we like to profess our love out loud, we invited the writer of Life Love Food for coffee. Besides being a lovely soul, she is also incredibly knowledgeable about quality ingredients, a spectacular photographer and we share the same passion for simplicity and well of course, Italy.
She published her first book Veneto: Recipes From an Italian Country Kitchen this July, and we cannot help but promoting this gorgeous collection of recipes, beautifully photographed and carefully written.
Following a recipe close to her heart, representing everything we stand for: quality ingredients, simplicity and sharing the food with someone you love. Enjoy!
With both sets of grandparents growing a good amount of prolific tomato plants in their gardens, we would sometimes find ourselves struggling to consume all their fruits. The foremost plan was to feast on tomatoes until we could eat no more, and to make sauce with whatever was left. Mum enjoyed turning the soft San Marzano tomatoes left on the bottom of the crate into what she used to call sugo di pomodoro fresco. It is nothing more than an uncooked sauce made with chopped tomatoes infused with lots of new season garlic, basil for brightness and freshness, and some good olive oil to bring it all together. The sauce, stirred quickly into pasta with some of its starchy water, produces the perfect seasonal spaghetti bowl — hot, yet still suitable for a humid Venetian summer night.
Ingredients Serves 4
1kg ripe San Marzano tomatoes, peeled (or Cherry Tomatoes), deseeded and finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
10–12 basil leaves, roughly torn
400g Filotea Durum Wheat Spaghettoni
45ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place the tomatoes, garlic and basil in a colander set over a bowl. Season with salt and pepper; toss to combine. Cover with a plate and leave to macerate for about 1 hour. Next, bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the spaghetti and cook very al dente — about 3 minutes short of the suggested cooking time. When the pasta is about ready, place a large frying pan over a high heat and keep it ready. Drain the pasta and transfer it to the pan together with the tomato mixture in the colander and the olive oil. Finish cooking the pasta with the sauce, adding a good splash of the liquid in the bowl released by the tomatoes to help it come together. Keep cooking the pasta for 2–3 minutes, tossing and turning so that it absorbs the liquid. The sauce should eventually look like an emulsion of sorts, with the tomato chunks softened. At this point, it’s ready to serve.
Note: The flavours here are very basic, but quite special in their own right, so it’s more important than ever to use ripe, flavoursome tomatoes (even cherry tomatoes, which you won’t need to peel), and the best oil you can lay your hands on. Finish your pasta with grated Parmesan if you like; I usually leave it out to let the tomatoes shine through.
From ‘Veneto: Recipes From an Italian Country Kitchen’ by Valeria Necchio, published by Guardian Faber