Thursday, January 6, 2011
We’re back from Istanbul, and two things are apparent. There is next to nothing in the house to have for dinner (and it’s a holiday here in Italy so no grocery run) and we definitely have to do some serious calorie cutting.
Skip dinner, you say? That would solve two problems. But in this family? No way. However, when I say there is next to nothing in the house, of course there is plenty. My pantry is always overflowing. There’s just not any ‘diet’ food, like vegetables. Or are there?
One of the biggest property owners in my pantry are the jars and jars of tomatoes that our friend Paolo puts up every August and gives to us. People so often think about these ‘canned’ things as somehow not a vegetable anymore, but just a vehicle for sauce. And the other misconception that people have is that pasta is not diet food. The evil carbohydrate raising it’s head.
But it’s about how much you eat of course. If you eat loads of pasta (or anything for that matter) you’re gonna gain weight. And if you load tons of oil and cheese on top of that, well...you know where this is going.
So, here follows my answer of what to make when your pantry is bare, and you maybe want to start the year on a slightly lighter note. Things to note: I’ve cut the oil way down, which isn’t always the way I do things. But in this case I’ve doubled the amount of tomatoes I usually use, and cooked them down even more to boost flavor. And to add more zing I’ve thrown in a handful of olives (not too many, just a bit to give texture and color and a bit of oliveyness) I’ve also added anchovies, so yes, this is really Puttanesca (but with less oil which I think is one of the main ingredients of Puttanesca).
And a word about amounts of pasta. It bears repeating about the whole quantity thing. More pasta = more calories. Now, I don’t know about your family, but no matter how much pasta gets cooked, gets eaten. So like a good Italian cook I measure out my pasta. For a pasta like this, with such a light sauce, I use 100 grams per person. (No more than that. Not even to use up the package of pasta.) For a heavier sauce- or one with a lot more vegetables - I cut it back to 75 or even 50 grams a person.
Pasta with Strong Tomato Sauce
500 gr/ 1 pound of farfalle*
4 cups pelati (peeled Italian tomatoes) with their juice
2 cups crushed tomatoes
6 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 black olives, pitted
4 teaspoons olive oil
Parsley (about 1/2 cup)
Heat olive oil in a saute pan large enough to hold all the cooked pasta and sauce. Add garlic. Heat for just a couple of minutes, then add red pepper, anchovies and olives. Stir until the anchovies start to fall apart, about 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and their juices. This will seem like a lot of tomatoes and juices, but you’re really going to cook it down a lot. Turn heat to high and let it really bubble away. You may have to put one of those splatter shields on the pot, but you don’t want to cover it. You want the sauce to reduce to about a 1/4 of what you start with. This should only take about 10 minutes or so, if you are really cooking at high heat.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta until done. Drain, and add pasta to the sauce in the pan, heating it through and scraping in any bits of dried sauce that stick to the edges of the pan.
Top with parsley and serve.
*of course you can use another shape of pasta. But I just felt I was getting into a penne rut.