The closest any member of my family has come to being Italian was a 16-month period beginning in 1985 when my mother insisted on calling my new boyfriend “Vince Scallopini”.
“That’s the veal, Mom, not the Vince” I’d say repeatedly. She’d laugh and continue undeterred right up until our wedding when she decided “Laura Scallopini” didn’t have quite the same ring.
Except for our son Vinnie, who ran into the cast of Jersey Shore in El Duemo during a high school choir trip to Florence, we’ve never even been to Italy.
We are, however, big fans of pasta, garlic and Mario Puzo and I honored all three the other night in a crazy attempt to turn seven nearly rotten tomatoes into genuine Italian gravy.
Here’s how the evening went down:
First I gathered the troops. There are five tomatoes in this picture but I later found two more cowering in the back of the refrigerator and I added them as well. I bought the Italian parsley but the rest of this stuff is pretty common to any kitchen. With the parsley I added sage, rosemary and…wait for it…thyme. I really did. The song got stuck in my head for the rest of the night. I chopped up lots of basil too. Nobody writes songs about basil though.
Then I scalded the tomatoes. 20 seconds in hot water, five in cold and the skin peels right off.
Is it wrong to show these poor tomatoes without their skins? After I took this picture I chopped everything in it except the oil.
Saute the onions, garlic and herbs in olive oil.
Add peeled and chopped tomatoes and simmer for 2 1/2 hours. I was not aware of this time requirement when I began this project at 5 p.m. so after about 90 minutes or so we all hovered over the frying pan. (Note–a watched pot of spaghetti sauce does boil.) We decided we didn’t like our sauce so thick after all. Next time I’ll start cooking earlier.
I realized you can’t see my beautiful sauce under all of that grated cheese — this is Wisconsin after all — but we really thought it was delicious. Next time you have a couple of hours and some nearly rotten tomatoes, we think you should try it too!
Wanna-be Italian spaghetti sauce
7 medium-sized tomatoes, peeled and chopped
Four cloves garlic, pressed
1 Teaspoon each chopped Italian parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme
1 tablespoon basil
Two medium onions, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
Saute onions, garlic, and herbs in olive oil for four or five minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and bay leaves and heat to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 2 1/2 hours. Remove bay leaves. Serve over hot pasta and sprinkle with grated cheese (Parmesan, Asiago, Mozzarella).