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Pasta Crudaiola

July 18, 2010

Fresh whole wheat orecchiette & trofie with cherry tomatoes, basil and cacioricotta

In any small town in the southern Italian region of Puglia, you’ll see groups of teenagers, grandmothers and babies, couples young and old – everyone  – out in the piazza or walking the streets until the wee hours of the morning. It’s too hot during the day to do much socializing, and besides, everything’s closed.

1:36 am, July 11, 2008

Needless to say, dinner in Puglia is a late affair. After a late start, a few hours at the beach (see below), a late lunch (see even more below), a leisurely nap, and an equally as leisurely trip to the local shops (which close at 1 pm and don’t reopen until 5 or 6 pm), we usually end up at the table around 10 or 11 pm.

Torre Guaceto

An impromtu picnic lunch: foccaccia, straciatella (that's the's like burrata, but creamier, if you can imagine that being possible), fresh sheep's ricotta, tomatoes, taralli and white wine

But that’s just fine with us. If we’re not going to our secret local trattoria for fave e cicoria, Torre Santa Sabina for the fish or Cisternino for the grilled meats, we’re most likely at home tucking into big bowls of fresh pasta and lots of local rosato wine.

This dish, one of my favorite summer pastas, was inspired one of those evenings when, sun drunk from the day, we had to feed lots of discerning (read: local) guests on short notice. It was received well and has since been recreated countless time for ourselves and guests.

I hope you try it and it comes to invoke in you what it does in me: summer nights with good food, good wine and good company.

Pasta crudaiola (Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes)

This takes no time at all, just enough for the water to boil and the pasta to cook. These amounts serve about 4, but feel free to play around with quantities. I’d serve this with a lovely, chilled rosé or rosato.

extra virgin olive oil

lots of cherry tomatoes (5 pints for 4 servings), halved

a large handful of fresh basil (or arugula)

1 cup cacioricotta or ricotta salata cheese, grated

small pasta (orecchiette work especially well; fresh, eggless pasta would work even better)

Put on a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. In another large pot, heat a goodly amount of olive oil (at least 1/3 cup) over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the halved cherry tomatoes and cook, stirring every once in awhile, for about 10 minutes, until goopy and delicious. You want the tomatoes to mostly lose their shape, but you don’t want the sauce to be too watery. Add about half the basil, a quarter of the cheese, and salt to taste.

Meanwhile, salt the pasta water and cook the pasta until really al dente (you’ll be cooking it a bit more in the sauce). Drain the pasta or spoon it out into the pot with the tomatoes. Add half of the remaining cheese and all the rest of the basil, stirring really well over medium-high heat. Spoon into four individual bowls and top with remaining cheese and some basil to garnish.

ANATOMY OF PASTA CRUDAIOLA (Bollano, August 2008):

Picking cherry tomatoes at Bollano

Cherry tomatoes cut? Pasta water on? Time to imbibe.

The tomatoes go into the pot...

The appetizers are ready...

...and consumed.

And finally, dinner is served.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Nina permalink
    July 19, 2010 12:26 am

    This blog is changing my life. Can’t wait to make this next!

    Side note – is the pasta you’re using green?

  2. Meredith permalink
    July 19, 2010 2:56 am

    OH MY GOD. This blog has existed for twelve whole days before I noticed??? What is WRONG with me?

    Gorgeousness! Can’t wait to cook along!

  3. July 19, 2010 3:30 am

    This recipe looks as amazingly good as the photographs. I can’t wait to get some yummy cherry tomatoes to try it out. To Nina’s side note, I’d say that the pasta is whole wheat and photographs with a greenish tint.

  4. Nina permalink
    July 19, 2010 11:02 am

    Oh, I see. Thanks!

  5. July 19, 2010 11:24 am

    Carol’s right! We bought that pasta fresh in Puglia in the morning, and cooked it up in Romagna for dinner. Oh, Italy.

  6. Brenna permalink
    July 20, 2010 12:07 am

    Heart is being wrenched…in a good way 🙂

  7. Brenna permalink
    July 20, 2010 12:08 am

    what a night!

    • July 20, 2010 10:41 am

      I didn’t post the “post” pictures of Francesco passed out in the kitchen…

  8. Kath permalink
    July 23, 2010 11:56 am

    AJ and I made this tonight with homemade fresh pasta – so delicious!!


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