Cherry tomatoes marinated in olive oil and garlic, going on top of some tagliatelle.
Photo © J E Nilsson for CMC 2009
It was during our trip to Italy late last year when we stepped into a genuine Tuscan house where the old housewife continued to uphold the family cooking traditions that stemmed from generations back. We sat down and settled for Aqua and a pasta dish that seemed nice, and walked straight into a new world of flavours as unexpected as unforgettable.
Standing outside a fantastic eating place with a beautiful view, about one hours drive from Florence.
This restaurant is located about one hour’s drive from Florence, a small monastery that serves food. I don’t even remember the name of it but it’s somewhere along the A1 when heading from the Gucci factory outlet, towards the vineyard cooperatives around San Gimignano. This is where I got introduced to this dish.
It’s very simple to prepare, as are many Tuscan dishes. The only things you need to be very careful with are the ingredients or the whole thing is hopelessly lost before you start and you will just be disappointed.
To make Spaghetti al Salsa di Pomodoro Crudo, you just cut, crush and mix into a bowl and let it sit in a warm room from morning to about lunch.
For about four persons, I took about 20 small sweet, flavour filled and sun ripened tomatoes, a generous handful of fresh basil and one fair sized clove of garlic.
Ingredients to this tagliatelle dish.
Crush the garlic clove, slice the tomatoes directly into the bowl so that the juices are not lost along the way; shred the basil leafs into the bowl using fingers and top up the bowl with fresh, green and fruity first class olive oil.
Sliced cherry tomatoes.
Pouring olive oil into the cherry tomatoes and garlic mixture.
When it comes to olive oil, there are different qualities beyond “virgin” and “cold pressed” oils. What you want is something better than extra virgin olive oil in flavour. The oil to look for is from those that hand pick their olives and have them pressed on a daily basis. Although this kind of quality olive oil is difficult to source, the daily pressed olive oils will render oils that are ultra low in acid content. In the end, this decides the fruitiness and the aroma and ultimately the entire experience of the dish.
When it is time to serve, remove the garlic cloves and pour the tomatoes with the wonderfully flavored olive oil into a bowl of steaming hot and freshly cooked pasta. For four persons you will need about 400 grams (1 lb) of pasta. Top off the dish with freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sea salt.