Thursday, August 25, 2011

Spaghetti with cherry tomatoes and pecorino cheese

Last week I submitted my recipe for spaghetti with cherry tomatoes and pecorino cheese to a contest organized by Food52. Food52 is the culinary and recipe blog by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs that I recommend you regularly take a look at, because they have pretty interesting contests (Ms. Hesser is also the author of The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century, an awesome book, if you ask me). 

Alas, I didn't win, but my recipe was among the editors' picks (as it had been the case last year for my butternut squash tortelli)"Yum!", the editors said about my cherry tomatoes pasta. "This pasta is a great example of using basic ingredients in clever ways to make an excellent dish. The tomatoes shine in this dish, breaking down just enough to release their juices and become warm bursts of deliciousness mixed throughout the pasta. I found a chile de arbol quite spicy, but feel free to use whatever chile you'd like. There is a nice amount of cheese in here to give it a little richness. The breadcrumbs make the sauce very thick and take the dish to the next level".  

They liked it, I guess. And I must admit I am not entirely surprised: this is possibly one of the recipes with the highest return on investment that I know of. And I am proud to say that I totally came up with it on my own, via trials and errors. Honestly: it literally takes five minutes of active preparation time, and the results are guaranteed to amaze your guests. Or - even more importantly - yourself. If you don't have pecorino cheese, you can replace make it with parmesan: it won't be as tasty though...

So here you go. Take advantage of the cherry tomatoes out there, and make this at home. And let me know how it comes out.

Spaghetti with cherry tomatoes (pomodori pachino) and pecorino cheese

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes (red)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I prefer riesling, but any wine will do)
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (or more, if the sauce is too liquid)
  • 3 tablespoons pecorino cheese, 
  • grated pecorino cheese to sprinkle on the plated pasta 
  • 10-12 ounces spaghetti (280-340grams, depending on how hungry you all are...)
  • 1 tablespoon salt, for the boiling water
  • peperoncino or chile de arbol, chopped finely
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • The stages of preparation
  1. In a skillet, heat up the oil on medium fire. When hot, add the chile de arbol (or the peperoncino, if you have it), stir and let it cook for one minute. Consider that the chile de arbol is hotter than peperoncino...
  2. Cut the cherry tomatoes in halves, and add them to the skillet. The oil will sputter, so be careful. Add salt and pepper, stir, let it cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the white wine. Personally, I prefer Riesling, because I find its sweet flavor perfectly complements the cherry tomatoes. But any white wine will do the trick. Stir, and let it cook until the alcohol evaporates, 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat, cover the skillet, and let it cook for 20 minutes. Stir once in a while. In the meantime, boil the water to cook your spaghetti, adding the salt when the water has started to boil.
  5. Cook the pasta as instructed on the package.
  6. While the pasta is cooking, remove the skillet with the sauce from the fire. The sauce will be very liquid, because the tomatoes will have released a lot of water. Add the pecorino cheese and the bread crumbs. Stir. The sauce will thicken almost immediately. If you like your sauce even thicker, add more breadcrumbs and/or continue to cook uncovered for a few minutes, so that the liquid can evaporate. DO NOT remove the sauce from the skillet.
  7. When the pasta is ready, drain it, then add it to the skillet with the sauce. Turn on the fire on medium high, and mix and cook for 1 minute. You may use two forks or a tong to mix the spaghetti with the sauce.
  8. Plate, add some more pecorino cheese on top of the plated pasta, and enjoy.


MG said...

I'm going to cook it tonight!

Tuscan foodie in America said...

Let me know how it turns out for you!

mg said...

I didn't do that, I forgot I haven't the right pecorino, gonna buy it!

Mary Kay said...

I like some meat in my spaghetti.

Tuscan foodie in America said...

MG, true, you need the right pecorino cheese (romano).

Mary Kay: no meat in my spaghetti, unless it is a good carbonara with guanciale or bacon.

Anonymous said...

Pomodorini ciliegia mai usati per fare la pasta, siccome hanno la buccia spessa si usavano per colorare il brodo in inverno

Tuscan foodie in America said...

Anonimo, questa della buccia usata per colorare il brodo non la sapevo proprio...

Anonymous said...

I didn't have a peperoncino or chile de arbol, so I substituted about a quarter teaspoon each of chili powder and crushed red pepper. It turned out WAY too spicy.

If you're like me and don't often use spicy ingredients, I have a strong suggestion: Cook the pepper on its own and add it LAST rather than first, doing so gradually and tasting the result. After getting burned (literally) once, I would do this whether not I was substituting a different hot ingredient. Otherwise its very easy to ruin the dish.

Learn from my mistake!


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