Read more about the book & movie: visit Auburn Meadow Farm Blog
A treasure in my library is Cucina & Famiglia by Joan Tropiano Tucci and Gianni Scappin. If you’ve ever seen the film Big Night, you’ll see why this book needed to be born. This movie, some great food and a little wine is a really enjoyable evening – invite some friends over and enjoy!
I love the book’s old family photos and stories bringing each recipe to life. Plus, the recipes perfectly showcase simple, high quality ingredients. I haven’t cooked the entire way through yet, but I’m working on it! If you can find the book, pair it with the DVD of the movie and it’s a special and thoughtful gift sure to be appreciated by any food loving friends.
Attention Food Preservationists: though this is a “fresh” tomato sauce, it freezes very well. This recipe is a single meal for four, but last year I made a 16 batch recipe and froze it in 1 cup portions. It worked perfectly and we could have used twice that much it is so good. I used small freezer storage bags; to save freezer space, contain the unfrozen bags snugly in a square container so when they freeze, they become uniform square packages that stack easily. When using your frozen sauce, thaw gently and completely and simply spoon over hot pasta – do not boil!
Read this intro by Gianni Scappin to the recipe and tell me you don’t have to have some right now:
“Italians are very proud of their tomatoes, and if you have ever visited Italy in the summer you know why – the tomatoes are sweet and very flavorful. One summer I ate a delicious pasta dish at a restaurant near my hometown. The simple tomato sauce was incredibly fresh and robust. I asked the chef for the recipe but he wouldn’t give it to me. I was haunted by the flavor of this dish and had to know the secret of how it was prepared, so a few days later I took the gentleman who had been my waiter out for a drink. I asked him how the sauce was made, and he described a recipe that was so simple, I was certain there must be more to it. I went home and followed his instructions. The sauce was perfect, just as I remembered it from the restaurant.”
- 1 1/2 pounds ripe summer tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Use a sharp knife to score the bottoms of the tomatoes with an X. Gently place the tomatoes in the boiling water. When the skin begins to unfurl at the X, remover the tomatoes from the water with a slotted spoon and plunge into a bowl of cold water. Allow the tomatoes to cool slightly; then peel away the skins.
Cut the tomatoes into several small pieces. Remove and discard the seeds (I skip this step and run them through a Roma food mill). Place the tomatoes in a food mill fitted with a coarse blade. Grind the tomatoes through the mill (or finely chop by hand) into a bowl. Stir the salt into the tomatoes. Transfer to a fine-mesh sieve and place the sieve over a bowl. Allow the tomatoes to drain for several hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. **Note: since I did a big batch, I drained them in a muslin bag – you can use a clean pillow case – hung over a sterilized food grade bucket.
Serve over a pound of cooked pasta tossed with 2 TBS of extra virgin olive oil. Simply discard any water accumulated in the bowl below the tomatoes and spoon equal portions of the concentrated tomatoes on top of the pasta. Serve immediately.
Variation: to warm this sauce, heat 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil in a small saucepan until hot but not smoking. Remove from the heat, add the tomatoes and stir to warm through. Serve immediately.