Spaghetti al Pomodoro (Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce)

from The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces by Diane Seed

1 lb. spaghetti
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 14-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes
1 sugar lump (1 teaspoon)
salt and black pepper
1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil and gently fry the chopped onion and garlic until softened.  Cover the pan to prevent browning if necessary.  Add the tomatoes with their juice, sugar, salt and pepper to taste, and cook over high heat, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When the sauce is reduced and thick, check the seasoning, then pass the sauce through the medium disc of a food mill (or use a blender or food processor as I did, though the cookbook author says that's "not authentic").
Cook the pasta, following the directions on the packet very carefully to avoid overcooking.  Drain the pasta and add half the freshly grated cheese, stirring thoroughly.  Then add the sauce.  Stir well, add the rest of the cheese, and serve.

If you've been reading this blog off and on since 2013 started, you may remember this "Year of Food" thing that's going on here.  A little refresher: last Christmas, my gift to the Mister was a year of cooking international cuisine in three-month chunks.  We ate a lot of Indian food from January to March, ate crepes and sprinkled herbes de Provence on everything from April to July for the French block, took August off (we were travelling, after all), and made a few beans-and-rice dishes in September and called it Ethiopian (that was a little bit of a failure.  I need to do more research next time).

Which brings us to October, where we are finishing the year with Italian food.

Already, I can tell I am really, really going to like this fourth quarter.

I did a little internet search for an Italian market near me, and I found this gem: D and D Market, in South Hartford.  I walked in, and immediately saw a giant display of tomatoes.  I'm naive, I know, but that started this place on the path of authenticity for me.

I rounded a corner of the market with my cart (and two kids) and I almost took out someone's dear old nona (who couldn't have weighed more than 85 pounds, and had a sweet kerchief).  Again, call me crazy, but this place was really feeling legit.

Two of the four walls were taken up by deli displays - one of cured meats and all kinds of cheeses with more "c"s and "i"s than I know what to do with, and the other with fresh sausages and meats.  Of course (because this has to be the case), one of the three butchers had a thick accent.

Also, there was a lot of frozen ravioli and tortellini.

And did you know that Romano cheese can come grated in three different ways?  Apparently it can.  That cheese alone took up a quarter of the dairy case.

I'm off to a roaring start thanks to these two cookbooks - Sicilian American Pasta by John Penza and Tony Corsi, and The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces by Diane Seed.  I figure that I need to work on my basics here (sauces and dishes using short lists of fresh ingredients) before going big.

Do you have any tips for me?  What cookbooks (websites/chefs) do you reference when making Italian food?

Buon appetito!


  1. You are too cute in that picture. And the cookbooks sound yummy! Now I'm craving spaghetti . . .

  2. Huh, I've eaten Ethiopian food a few times, and I don't remember any rice--just ngira, that sour bread that rolls up into ace bandage-like shaps. and the only beans I remember were lentils. Give it another try!

  3. Andrea, I'm going to blame a lackluster "East African Cooking For Kids" book at the library. My Ethiopian options were nonexistent there. I WILL try again. Do you know any good resources?

  4. http://ethiopianrecipes.net/ looks good and http://www.food.com/recipes/ethiopian. I have never tried making it before, but maybe I'll give it a try if you do!