Recipe from Audrey at Home, Memories of my Mother’s Kitchen
by Luca Dotti with Luigi Spinola Harper Design
Mom had an addiction; she could not do without pasta.
This is the dish she would often have waiting for her when she returned from a trip, along with a bit of vanilla ice cream or compote.
3 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, cored and coarsely diced
1 onion, peeled and left whole
1 stalk celery, cleaned and left whole
1 carrot, peeled and left whole
6 basil leaves, chopped, plus whole leaves for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fine and coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Start by cooking the tomatoes with the onion, celery and carrot in a large covered pan over a high heat for about 10 minutes to soften the vegetables.
Remove the lid and keep the boil for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.
Lower the heat to medium-low, and add the basil leaves and a drizzle of oil. The tomato sauce is ready when, as they say in Naples, “pipiotta” – when the bubbles are no longer made of water but rather small craters of sauce. Remove from the stove, discard the largest vegetable chunks and allow the sauce to cool.
A stainless-steel vegetable mill – the hand-operated type – is necessary once the cooking is complete to transform the tomato sauce and pieces of vegetables into a puree of the right consistency. It also will remove the bitter skins and tomato seeds. Add a drizzle of olive oil and adjust bitterness with a pinch of sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To cook the spaghetti al dente, fill a large pot with cold water and place over high heat. When the water comes to a boil add a handful of coarse salt and the pasta, without breaking it. When done, remove the pot from the stove (perhaps even a minute sooner than the cooking time suggested on the package). Drain in a colander and add the pasta to the sauce with a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Mix well and garnish with a few basil leaves.
Approximately 4 servings.
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