We are still basking in the memories of our European trip and this post is about the Italian part. Our friends in Italy are so generous. They are generous with their time, their attention and their gifts. Tiziana so graciously took me to buy the best cheeses in all of Italy – award-winning Pecorino’s in many different “flavors.” I bought two different kinds (now I wish I would have bought more…) plus some Parmigiano. I bought 3 large wedges but ended up giving two away to each of my kids. Why was I feeling so generous at that moment???
Tiziana was so gracious in equipping me with an insulated bag with a cold pack plus another suitcase that I could put all the cheeses in and check the bag for flying. And did I tell you about the olive oil? Every guest at the wedding got this can of olive oil pressed from olives from the olive trees in their yard!
This is THE BEST olive oil – so fruity, so pure, so DELICIOUS!! I wish to never run out of this but that is really wishful thinking since I only have two cans.
On Sunday night of that amazing weekend in Italy, if you can imagine, Andrea and Tiziana had yet another dinner party. These are the parents of the bride who held a party in their home for 50 people on Friday night, hosted the wedding on Saturday, which started at 5 pm and ended at 5:30 am and then had about 20 people for dinner on Sunday night, with Tiziana making yet another pasta dish – pici with her mother’s pomarola sauce – so delicious!! Not yet knowing how to make that, I came home and immediately made this pasta with fresh tomato sauce – twice already!
The tomatoes are so abundant, fresh and flavorful this time of year, perfect to make this dish. It’s so darn easy and quick too. I didn’t have any basil in the city so I substituted sorrel in the first picture.
Parsley would have worked too – the little bit of green is nice.
Here is this very simple recipe to make a perfect and satisfying meatless meal:
PASTA WITH FRESH TOMATO SAUCE – serves 6 as a main course
1 lb. dried pasta – I used spaghetti
Coarse sea salt or Kosher salt to salt the pasta water
2 lbs. fresh tomatoes – preferably heirloom or sunny gold, washed, dried, cored and chopped
¼ cup of olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, grated
Salt to taste – preferably French Grey
Black pepper – fresh ground to taste
Pinch of red chili flakes
Torn basil leaves or sorrel or flat leaf parsley for garnish
Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a large shallow bowl.
Cook the pasta in ample boiling water, salted to taste like the ocean. Start testing the pasta 2 minutes before the lesser time on the instructions. You must have the pasta al dente. No one likes overcooked pasta. Before draining, save some pasta water.
Immediately place drained pasta in the bowl with the sauce ingredients, adding 1 – 2 Tbs. of pasta water, to make the sauce adhere to the pasta better and toss all to combine. Garnish with torn basil leaves or sorrel or parsley. Serve immediately.
That same Sunday night in Italy, Cristina, Tiziana’s best friend and my sweet Prada buddy (she took me to the Prada store) came to dinner with a jar of her favorite Tuscan meat sauce – she said Tiziana knows cheese but she knows meat!! She brought the best bresaola I have ever tasted. And she brought her favorite Tuscan cookbook for me that is thankfully in English and Italian! I don’t know how she even found the time to go get these gifts in between the Prada trip and dinner that night. Everybody was so SWEET!! Cristina asked if I had room in my suitcase. Heck I’d find room come hell or highwater.
And how sweet this is because every time I see the book, read or use a recipe, I think of Cristina and Tiziana and our amazing time in Italy. All the wonderful memories come flooding back – the scenes, the conversations, the sunsets, the lavender, the cypress trees, the food, the wine, our four kids all dressed up and bouncing around in an open jeep, hair flying, not caring, and the most beautiful wedding.
We all have been continuing the conversation via email, discussing our kids and recipes. Soon I’ll share with you Tiziana’s mother’s recipe for the Pomarola Sauce. I made it once already last weekend, but not the way Nonna makes hers so I want to make her recipe exactly and share that with you.
But for now, let me share with you a little dinner party we hosted for our good friends, Margaret and Wayne, the first Saturday we were back. My appetizers were the two different kinds of Pecorino along with some bruschetta with truffles that I bought at the airport. Super delish!
Then I served my gazpacho soup garnished with avocado.
Then I made some pici pasta I picked up at the Pisa airport and served it with Cristina’s sauce and OMG – it was sooooo good!! A garnish of basil was all that was needed. Dinner served!!
Then I served a salad of greens from my garden – lettuce, sorrel and basil with tomatoes, radishes and chives – tossed with a champagne vinaigrette. A good light clean palette cleanser,
and then we finished up with this strawberry rhubarb crisp with a little vanilla ice cream.
So don’t “labor” this weekend! Make this pasta with fresh tomato sauce, with LOVE, so super easy, and kick back and relax!