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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pasta, Pasta, Pasta, part 3

I want to thank everyone for coming out to my Healthy Cooking demo at the 10K Run at the Ellis Athletic Center compound yesterday (Saturday, Oct 20th). The event benefited the Women's Resource Center. It was so nice to see everyone and the weather could not have been better. It's always fun for me to get to appear with other chefs and this one was no exception- Dan Funk- a chef well known for his New Orleans style cooking added a great touch and it is always nice working with such a talented chef as well.

But , all the while on my mind was making a fresh tomato sugo from the ripe red tomatoes I got from a farm on Friday. And I was finally able to do that for Sunday afternoon dinner. It was well worth the wait. In honor of my tomato sugo, I wanted to continue with my 'pasta saga' and give you some history on combining pasta and tomatoes. Also check below for my tomato sugo recipe. it's from my book The Basic art of Italian Cooking. (You can get it online at: All this month you can order this bestselling book and get $5 off purchase price and an autographed copy, And don't forget portions of proceeds go towards Gilda's Club)

While it may seem hard to believe, pasta existed and was consumed all this time without the accompaniment of its contemporary companion, the tomato! In fact, this pairing did not occur until the 19th century. Even though tomatoes were introduced to Europe in the 16th century by Spanish explorers, they were actually considered poisonous. They were originally referred to as “golden apples” (pomo d'oro), which suggests that they may have been of a more pale variety than the tomatoes we consume today. Because people were suspicious about eating them, tomatoes were largely used for decorative purposes. Luckily, the confusion concerning their safety was eventually overcome, and pasta and tomatoes have complemented each other ever since. The first documented recipe for tomatoes and pasta emerged in 1839 by Ippolito Cavalcanti, the Duke of Buonvicino, for ‘vermicelli co le pommodoro.’
It did not take long for the trend to catch on, and the next 30 years served up an abundance of variety, including soups, purées, and sauces for meats, veal, chicken and, of course, pasta.

Tomato Sugo

(copyright 2005,2006 from The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati)

1 lb. of fresh, ripe, plum tomatoes or tomatoes ripened on the vine

2 tbsps of Extra Virgin, cold pressed olive oil or Virgin olive oil.

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 slice of onion

3 basil leaves

Pinch of fine salt to taste

Filet the tomatoes cutting them into thin wedges and eliminating the seeds.
Place 2 tbsps of olive oil in large saucepan. Add garlic cloves, slice of onion, lightly saute- careful not to burn the onion or garlic. Garlic and onion should start to be a light golden color in 1-2 minutes. Then add tomato wedges. Let tomatoes and their liquid simmer down until not’ liquidy‘- approximately 15-30 minutes. Once cooked to a good consistency add basil. Take off burner. Sauce is ready to have pasta added to it.

Ciao for now !


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