I haven’t written on Medium for a long time, especially about food. I don’t have an excuse. I just haven’t felt like writing.
I enjoy cooking and baking bread. The thing is most of my cooking and baking involves Italian or Sicilian recipes, and I figure people get tired of seeing the same thing.
So why am I writing now about an old Sicilian dish my Nona made? Because making it last night brought back some great memories of growing up in Sicily. Memories I’ve shared before and will again.
I remember as a little boy coming in from playing in my Papa’s vineyards to the smell of this wonderful tomato sauce on the stove. It wasn’t the usual Sunday meat or seafood sauce smell. It was the smell of garlic and fresh baby tomatoes freshly picked by my Nona maybe an hour before she started.
The smell of the garlic frying in the cast iron pan was amazing. AS the garlic fried she would add fresh basil, a little red wine, salt, pepper and of course some crushed red pepper flakes.
Then the final ingredient was the tomatoes all freshly washed and whole. She didn’t dice them up or slice them in half. She threw them in whole. Once they started to heat up they would begin to burst open and she would stand over them stirring them gently. She didn’t want to rush them to cook. She would tell me the tomatoes need time to mature so they taste great (back then I really didn’t understand mature, all I knew was the sauce tasted great).
As the tomatoes continued to open up their juices melted into the olive oil, wine, garlic, and spices. The smell was incredible. I couldn’t wait to taste.
Let’s get back to last nights recipe now.
So I texted Patti to grab me some cherry tomatoes on her way home as well as some parmesan cheese to grate (not the already grated crap they sell). By the way, don’t buy grated cheese. Do it yourself, it isn’t that difficult.
We have an electric stove which I have a love-hate relationship with. If anyone has cooked on both, I bet you know what I mean? It’s about getting the temp just right. You don’t want to burn the garlic, but you need to sauteé it so it’s soft and its oils flavor the olive oil before you throw the rest of the ingredients in.
Once the temp was perfect, I threw in the garlic, and once it was translucent, I added the basil, a little red wine, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes and then let the heat do its thing.
When everything started to come together, I added the tomatoes just as my Nona taught me. No slices or dices. Just whole and then let them burst on their own or mature as she said.
Right on cue, they started to burst open, and the smell that radiated from that pan was incredible. It was like being back in my Nonaś kitchen in Catania.
Once all the tomatoes burst open, I began to stir them with a little more vigor to help them release their juices into the olive oil and wine. That completed the process of making this simple and quick sauce.
That’s the thing I didn’t tell you yet. This entire cooking process took all of 20–30 minutes. That’s all it took folks. Simple, fast, and incredibly delicious.
Give it a try with your favorite pasta. Last night we went with spaghetti!
Before I forget, I made fresh ciabatta bread to go with this meal. It was my first attempt at making real ciabatta bread. It came out okay for the first time. I’ll post about that next time with picks.
Pictures next time I promise.
Thanks for taking the time to enjoy this post!
Mark & Patti