Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Trader Joe's Tuesday -- Pasta with Tomato & Basil

OK, Aaron and I are now seriously obsessed with making the best Pasta with Tomato & Basil in the history of mankind. We saw a "Best Thing I Ever Ate" episode featuring top chefs sharing their favorite sauces. Ted Allen, previously of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and currently pretty much always on The Food Network, said his favorite sauces is the Spaghetti with Tomato & Basil at Scarpetta in NYC. People pay $24 at the restaurant for a simple lovely portion of what looks like the most amazing spaghetti you've ever eaten.

So, we googled the recipe. You can too, and you'll see several versions, including the one I'm including with this blog entry, where you can see video and stills to guide you through the process.

On the way to our very serious cooking session to try to mimic Scott Conant, I stopped at Roma Market, an Italian market that is so authentic and amazing that I wrote an article about it for Pasadena Magazine. I found the most amazing, ripe, huge, deep red Roma tomatoes I've ever seen. They always have fully ripe produce, so you can only buy for the day you want to eat/cook. Neither Aaron nor I had Romas left on our vines and none of the Farmer's Markets oddly had any either.

Then, also at Roma, instead of Spaghetti, I got a very expensive bag of pasta flown in from Italy (in fact no English on the package) of something that looked like Bucatini (very thick spaghetti). This was a mistake, we've decided.

We made the recipe -- it is fairly labor intensive, but really fun because you are infusing oil with basil, garlic and pepper flakes while you work on making the fresh romas into tomato sauce. I've always used canned tomatoes for my sauces.

It really was great, but it wasn't spectacular. I loved it more than Aaron. He blamed the noodles. I want to try another version of the Scarpetta recipe I found online (the one from Good Morning America) and see how that tastes. I think it loooks like the right amount of tomatoes (20, as opposed to 8 in the recipe we used). I'll report back after I make that one.

BUT, the next day I made another pasta sauce with the leftover tomato juices and canned tomatoes, and it was spectacular! ....which brings me to...... TRADER JOE'S TUESDAY!

There is a LAZY version of the Scarpetta recipe, for which you can buy all of the ingredients at Trader Joe's!

Use the recipe I posted and follow it. You can actually buy every single ingredient at Trader Joe's but if you want to make it super lazy (i.e., not do the fresh tomato part which is the labor intensive part), just substitute two large cans of tomatoes for the 8 fresh ones and seed them as well as you can (with washed hands), strain, etc.

If you want to do the non-Lazy version with fresh tomatoes, just make sure you find the ripest of Romanos in the lot.

TIP: To make the serving of pasta look super cool on the plate, take a can and take off both ends with a can opener. Stand it on plate, and then take tongs and grab pasta and drop into the "mold" you have made. Once you've put a full serving in there, remove the "mold"/can, and voila, it pretty much keeps its shape.

This make a Lovely Summer Supper! How can you go wrong with Tomatoes and Basil????

Buon Appetito!

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