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21 April 2012

Pasta alla Carrettiera


"Too much garlic?"

Four cloves of garlic for a serving of four?  I don't think I can handle that.  Neither can the author of the email I just received.  There was a link to a pasta recipe that I should check out and that question.  Ha!  I knew it!   My husband just found a pasta dish he would like to try.


This one is different from the rest because all the sauce ingredients are uncooked.  They are all fresh and are the ones that you normally have at home.  Tomatoes, parsley, chili, basil, garlic (loads of them!) and extra virgin olive oil.  And if you feel like it, add some grated pecorino (not parmigiano reggiano).  We all did, and the taste was spectacular!


My husband is in one of his drives to healthy eating.  Mediterranean is always welcome at home.  This recipe is exuding with healthiness and simplicity.  And I was very curious at how it would taste like.


Let me tell you what I have gathered about this pasta.  It is what the drivers of the colorful horse-drawn Sicilian carts were eating while traveling because it was easy to prepare and transport.  They have been in use in the island at the beginning of 1800s.  Nowadays, you almost don't find them anymore in the streets on normal days.  There are some who still keep them for festival or tourism use.  In fact, I only saw one once in Monreale back in 2000. 

Photo taken from Wikipedia
When I prepared this for the first time, I was surprised at how fast and easy it is to compose.  The important thing is to let it sit long, around 3 hours, so that the flavors can blend together.  In the recipe I used and some others I found, they say to refrigerate during the 3-hour sitting but then I found one recipe that says not to refrigerate so that the flavors can blend better at room temperature.  I thought not refrigerating makes more sense because, after all, back in the days, there were no refrigerators yet.   I wanted to have a more genuine feel.


When I served this the first time, I was quite sure that I would be hearing complaints from the kids.  Minced fresh green leaves are hard to pick out from the dish and the two have a selective "allergic" reaction to anything green because they look too healthy. Kids and greens are like cats and dogs.  They never go well together. 


But, hold on!  My son wolfed down his pasta and told me so many times that it was good.  I asked him if he was feeling well.  It couldn't be real.  Even my daughter ate her pasta.  What do you know.  I found a family pasta that has all the qualities every parent wants.  Easy, healthy & cheap.


Since the ingredients are minimal and the tomatoes are the protagonists in this plate, don't forget to use good quality tomatoes. Get the ripe ones that are sweet.  I used good datterini tomatoes.  I almost exclusively use them especially in salads or bruschette because their intense flavor rarely disappoint me. 

Whereas for the garlic, well, it's up to you if you want to put one garlic per person.  I used only 1 (for 4 servings) but put more if you want it really garlicky.  The second time I prepared this, which was a couple of days after, I used 1 clove for 2 servings and my husband and I both thought it was too strong.

Give this pasta a try and I'm sure it will become a favorite at home, just like with us.

I take my pictures outside the kitchen, close to my two chive plants.  They're thriving with beautiful flowers that I thought of sharing what I see everytime I am there.  Have a good weekend!




Pasta alla Carrettiera


Ingredients:
Serves 4
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 500 grams ripe tomatoes (choose the tasty ones)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 chili
  • 2 stalks fresh parsley
  • 6 fresh basil leaves
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 400 grams long pasta like spaghetti, linguine or vermicelli
  • Pecorino cheese, grated (optional)
Directions:
  1. Cut the tomatoes in half, squeezing out some of the liquid and the seeds. Mince. 
  2. Mince the parsley, basil, garlic and chili. You can also put them all in an electric chopper.
  3. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together except the Pecorino cheese. Mix well.
  4. Leave the mixture at room temperature for one hour. 
  5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Over high heat, bring a pot of water to a boil.
  6. When it boils, add some salt then cook the pasta according to the number of minutes indicated in the package. Drain.
  7. Mix the sauce with the cooked pasta. Add extra virgin olive oil if still needed.
  8. Sprinkle the Pecorino if using.