Thursday, July 29th, 2010
I have several cookbooks by Giuliano Bugialli. He, along with Marcella Hazan are the probably the most respected authors of Italian Cookbooks. Like Marcella, Giuliano has written his books in English and directed them to the American market. I don’t think that either of them is well know in Italy and their books are not available in Italian at least as far as I can determine through searches on the web. This seems a shame. Giuliano has done significant research throughout Italy and many of his books have beautiful photographs to bring the food to life and inspire one to try the recipes. Below is a photo of Giuliano in his salad days. Ah, we were both younger then.
There is a difference. Like Juilia Child, Marchella’s recipes have never failed me. Giuliano is close but I would say not quite as foolproof as Juilia. Occasionally it helps to have a solid background in cooking to read between the lines to assure success. The recipe that I offer here is one such example. But before I go into that I must say that Giuliano continues to give classes at least all over the United States as well as in Italy. I was fortunate a few years ago to take a class in San Francisco at Tante Marie Cooking School (I have his autograph in one of the cookbooks). He is very entertaining and a very good teacher. One of his signature activities in the class was to make fresh pasta. Rather than cutting it into lengths, he makes the the pasta into a single yards-long strip that finally emerges with it’s final thickness from the familiar hand-cranked pasta machine. This gets passes around the room to the class attendees forming a pasta circle. It is quite impressive.
This recipe is one of my favorites. Being a little, well, lazy, I like simple and good and this fills the bill on both counts. Two days ago I was at my favorite supermarket (Berkeley Bowl!) and cherry tomatoes were on sale for 3 baskets for $1! Fantastic! Clearly the time for the dried cherry tomato recipe. The photo is from the Bugialli book Foods of Italy.
When I look at this photo the first thing I see is the beauty of it and the luscious look of the tomatoes. The next thing that strikes me is all of these little tomatoes are tied together individually with some sort of fine string. What patience it takes to do this – way more than I have. I opt for the method called for in the recipe. As usual I provide my own commentary and variations on the recipe. The result is intense tomato flavor that comes from the drying of the tomatoes. The skins become quite thin and delicious in themselves and the result is amazingly good. I hope that you give it a try and let me know what you think.
You can see more about Giuliano here and Tante Marie’s Cooking School here. Mary Risley is known for her good works as well as her great cooking school. (Hi, Mary). One last note. I emailed Giuliano on his website (here) and he responded. He is still doing classes and will send you a schedule. Ciao Giuliano!
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The recipe. As usual I have my own comments.
I made some corrections to this on 8/7/10. Nothing substantial.
1 pound of cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
½ cup olive oil – I use less, enough to generously coat the bottom of the pan
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (holy mackerel – that much will take your head off – try ¼ and adjust)
coarse salt for the pasta cooking water
1 pound dried spaghetti, preferably Italian – definitely Italian – much better than American stuff (I find that whole wheat linguini by DeCecco is VERY good with this)
25 sprigs Italian parsley, leaves only
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Put the tomatoes on a lightly oiled baking sheet. I use a large non-stick pan with no oil and get good results. Bake for 5 minutes. The tomatoes I usually get are a little larger than the nice small ones and take longer than the 5 minutes specified. Cook them until some of the skins start to rupture but before they become brown. For tomatoes about an inch in diameter I find that 20 minutes is about right. When the tomatoes have cooled enough cut them in half – don’t lose that juice. Heat the oil in a pan large enough to hold the tomatoes and add the garlic. Cook at fairly low heat for a couple of minutes or until the garlic just starts to brown. Add the tomatoes and raise the heat to very high. Cook for about 10 minutes or so. The tomatoes will begin to come apart but will not dissolve completely and the juice will thicken. Season with salt and pepper and the pepper flakes. Better to go light with the peppers and taste. You can always add more but see note above about the quantity.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water and when just al dente drain and add to the sauce. (BTW one pound for 4 people is more than I find reasonable. I usually go with about half that amount.) Sprinkle parsley leaves over all, mix thoroughly and serve immediately. Giuliano says that cheese is not used and he is absolutely right. Cheese cloaks the intense tomato taste.