Our Italian Cooks: a delicious pasta with 5 ingredients

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Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

For the past week we’ve had our lovely friend Nico visiting us from Berlin. Nico is originally from Napoli, Italia but moved to Berlin in 2007 and he and P ended up as roommates in a WG. Nico was so nice to me when I’d come and visit from NY. It’s been lovely showing him around Jozi and last week he cooked us a delicious, simple dinner that even someone with a small New York galley kitchen could handle. I asked him that morning what he would cook us and he replied that he would find inspiration at the market. So this is what came out:

Pasta with tomato, onion and pancetta (or bacon) for 4

Ingredients:

Pasta, 500gms (we used penne)

2 cans of cherry tomatoes (you can use real if it is tomato season where you live)

1/2 a white onion, finely chopped

3/4 a package a of bacon, cut into small pieces

Parmigiano

(I’m cheating a not counting olive oil or salt as the 5)

Heat olive oil in a frying pan, add onion and brown for a few minutes until transclucent. Add bacon, cooking and stirring for about 5 more minutes. Add cherry tomatoes and let the sauce cook  down for about 45 minutes, until the consistency is thick. While the sauce is cooking, bring to a boil and add a generous amount of salt (Nico used 3 giant scoops from the salter). Add penne and cook until al dente. When the sauce is done, mix together with the pasta, grate some Parmigiano on top, and enjoy with lots of wine and a rocket salad.  Bursting with flavor and so simple.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Roasted Tomato Sauce and Pasta From Scratch

Land of Nams: living in johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love
Land of Nams: living in johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love
Land of Nams: living in johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love
Land of Nams: living in johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love
Land of Nams: living in johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love
Land of Nams: living in johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love
It’s rolling into summer here and the tomatoes are off the charts, and so they are showing up about 3 times a week in our dinners, (apologies to you northern-hemisphere dwellers). I had my first adventure in noodle making and made the rookie mistakes: too-thick pasta that wasn’t uniform. Ah well, the taste was still heavenly. While googling I also learned that Marco Polo did NOT bring noodles to Italy from China, it had already been there for 200 years. Pshht. If this is your first time, get some pasta-making tips first from the pioneer woman (I did not use a flour bin like she did) and know that you don’t need any special tools. I’m trying out a new format for my recipes, I hope it will be more convenient (and also more aesthetically pleasing).

This recipe is modified from epicurious and the NY Times (I hate it when people pretend they were the first person to come up with the idea of putting a vegetable under some fire and adding salt).

Yield: 2

Ingredients: 

Sauce:
-12 oz or 340 grams cherry tomatoes, halved
-5-8 medium garlic cloves, minced
-3 tablespoons evoo
-2/3 grated parmesan, grana padano or pecorino
-1/4 cup basil, or parsley, or oregano or a mix of these.
-salt and pepper to taste

Pasta:
-1 cup unbleached all purpose flour, a little more for dusting
-2 eggs

How-to

Sauce: Preheat oven to 300 F or 150 C. Mix the tomatoes, half the olive oil, and most of the minced garlic in a bowl. Spread on a baking sheet cut side up and roast, about 45 minutes. Be careful not to let them dry out. In a food processor mix the herbs, cheese, and remaining garlic and oil until pretty fine. After the tomatoes are finished, immediately spread the herb paste on top, then mash everything with a spoon set it aside until you’re ready.

Pasta: These are not my instructions, but the universal recipe for pasta-making everywhere. Make a mound/bowl shape with your flour on a clean wooden cutting board. Crack the eggs into the flour bowl.  With a fork mix the eggs in the flour bowl until the eggs are broken. Incorporate more and more of the flour until you have a (pretty grainy) dough, kneading it with your hands after it gets too thick for the fork. Clean your board with a bench knife (or butter knife if like me you don’t have a bench knife). Roll out the dough flat as thin as you possibly can with a rolling pin. Cut long one inch strips with your dough. Mark strips into 3 inch pieces, taking each piece and twirling it around a bamboo stick or just a wooden skewer and set aside. (Aside: I’m not sure what to call this pasta shape, as I misread instructions for strozzapreti) Boil water, add noodles with a generous pinch of salt until al dente.

Optional: put the sauce back in the oven while boiling the pasta to reheat it a bit. Mix together the pasta and roasted tomatoes and serve! Bon appetit!

the simple things in life: spicy cherry tomato pasta sauce.

Namrata Singh//this entire series was shot by me, obviously 

unlike those of you poor brave people in the northern hemisphere, it is spring here in south africa and a lot of interesting fruits and vegetables (a lot of which aren’t available at higher lattitudes and therefore new to me) are just starting to hit the markets. but today isn’t about exotic fruits or veggies, it is about enjoying the simple tastes of ingredients you probably have lying around your home or growing in your garden no matter what hemisphere. i whipped up this pasta sauce and took lots of pictures…the recipe i used is a summer twist of an old favorite around here, mark bittman’s minimalist tomato sauce and some additional ingredient ideas from epicurious. this is for two people with maybe some left over for a small lunch the next day. obviously, the main ingredient is cherry tomatoes -about one pound. i got an array of colors:

the tomatoes are accompanied by 4 cloves of garlic, half an onion, a green chilli, an african bird’s eye chilli because we like things spicy around here, half a cup of white wine, a big ol’ bunch of basil, oregano and italian parsley, salt, pepper, and a good dose of parmigiano reggiano at the end. obviously the chillies are optional depending on your tastes. i used 8 oz of spaghetti for two. if you don’t have a counter top food scale, you should consider getting one…it will make your cooking life easier and may do wonders for your waistline. 

first, chop up those garlic cloves and your half onion. 


pour a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucier pan (hehe i have a fancy new saucier pan). turn it up to medium high heat and when the oil has warmed up a bit, you can slide in your garlic and onions. after a few minutes when the onion is starting to turn translucent put in all of your cherry tomatoes. that’s right, put them in whole. how easy is that? (obviously people, a saucier pan is NOT necessary, you just need a pretty wide vessel and in a pinch a frying pan will work though the sides are kind of low)