Spaghetti with raw tomatoes

Spaghetti al pomodoro crudo. This is a really good dish for a hot summer’s day. It’s only worth doing if you can find really ripe, tasty tomatoes though. If all you can find are the usual UK supermarket version ie. hard as a golf ball and flavourless – don’t bother ūüėČ Serves 4.

  • 360g spaghetti
  • 500g ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 10 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic,peeled
  • salt and pepper
  1. Put the tomatoes into a large bowl along with the oil, whole garlic and basil. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
  2. Cover and leave in a cool place to allow the flavours to develop – at least 1 hour but the longer you can leave it the better. Remove the garlic before serving.
  3. Cook the spaghetti until al dente, drain and mix with the sauce.

Beef in white wine and tomatoes

This classic dish is known as spezzatino di manzo in Italian. If you serve it with polenta, it’s a meal in itself. Serves 4

Beef in white wine ingredients

Beef in white wine ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2¬†tbsp olive oil
  • 25g butter
  • 1¬†medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1¬†stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 600g lean stewing beef, cubed
  • 75ml dry white wine
  • 200g tomato pulp or passata
  • salt and pepper

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a pan, add the onion, celery and cook over a low heat, stirring from time to time, for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the meat and stir-fry until it is browned all over.
  3. Add the wine and let it reduce until it has almost completely evaporated.
  4. Add the tomatoes along with 150ml warm water.
  5. Cover and simmer over a low heat until the meat is tender, 1-2 hours.
Beef in white wine

Beef in white wine

Rigatoni with basil and tomatoes

Somebody was asking for vegan recipes on one of the forums I visit. She is due for a visit from her daughter-in-law and was stuck for ideas. My first thought was ‘Easy! Most of the recipes on the blog are vegan.’ .¬†On closer inspection, however, I realised none of them are ūüôā Vegans eat cheese, don’t they? ūüėČ I asked around my Italian friends, and after much explanation of the concept of veganism, I came up with this recipe. Baking the dish concentrates the flavour of the¬†tomatoes wonderfully. If you’re cooking it for a strict vegan, check that the bread crumbs¬†don’t contain any milk.¬†¬†¬†Serves 6

rigatoni with basil ingredients

  300 grams  rigatoni
¬† 1¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†kilogram¬† top quality tomatoes — sliced
¬† 1¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†large bunch of basil — chopped
  1      tablespoon  bread crumbs
          olive oil

  • Cook the rigatoni in salted water. Drain and dress with plenty of olive
    oil, half the basil, and the bread crumbs.
  • Put a layer of the tomatoes in an oiled oven proof dish
  • Top with some basil, a drizzel of oil, a little salt, and a layer of
    rigatoni.
  • Repeat until all the ingredients have been used up. Finish with a layer of
    tomatoes.
  • Bake in a medium oven for about 45 minutes
  • Serve hot.

rigatoni with basil and tomatoes finished dish

Orecchiette with tomatoes and ricotta

¬†¬†This is the first dish I had cooked for me in Pulgia. Orecchiette¬†is the most traditional pasta of the region. The most popular way to serve them is with turnip tops (cime di rape) , but this way is also common. Feel free to leave out the chilli.¬†This dish uses¬†ricotta dura¬†which is a type of aged ricotta from Puglia. It has a¬†fairly mild, but distinct flavour.¬† Don’t try this using regular soft ricotta, it won’t be the same. It would probably be ok with a mild pecorino if you can’t find ricotta dura.¬†Serves 4

Orrecciete with tomatoes and ricotta dura ingredients

Orrecciete with tomatoes and ricotta dura ingredients
  • ¬† 400¬† grams¬† orecchiette — fresh if possible
  • ¬† 300¬†¬†grams¬† cherry tomato — halved
  • ¬† 1¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†handful¬† basil leaves — torn
  • ¬† 3¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† tablespoons¬† ricotta dura — grated
  • ¬† 1¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†clove¬† garlic — peeled
  • ¬† 3¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†tablespoons¬† olive oil
  • ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†pinch¬† chilli flakes
  1. Fry the garlic clove in the olive oil until golden and then discard.
  2. Add the tomatoes and chilli and continue cooking for about 15 minutes
  3. Just before the end of cooking, add the basil
  4. Mix with the cooked orecchiette, top with the cheese and serve