Eat Well: Spaghetti del ContadinOMG

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, Mom!
photo 5-1
I was rummaging through old cookbooks and came across a gem…a simple and obvious pasta sauce, but I have now made it three times in three weeks because I can’t get enough of it. The recipe comes from the Mama Agata cookbook—a restaurant and cooking school on the Amalfi Coast. Larry found the cookbook and bought it for me after a magical trip to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast several years ago so that we could continue to enjoy the food we fell in love with there.

Spaghetti del contadino, or Farmer’s Spaghetti, is a great meal on its own, or you can serve it as a side dish. One thing I love about this cookbook is that since Mama Agata is a teacher, she includes fabulous tips. I have been cooking with garlic all of my life, but not one recipe I have ever made included the following IMPORTANT garlic tip. And what a difference it makes!!!! So…drum roll…here it is:

ADD GARLIC TO ROOM-TEMPERATURE OIL AND GENTLY HEAT THEM BOTH AT THE SAME TIME. Because, if you heat the olive oil before you add the garlic, the oil will be too hot and it will brown the garlic, making it lose its delicious flavor. WOW!!!!!! (Sorry to emote so strongly about garlic, but this really is kind of revolutionary. I always heat the oil and stir the garlic quickly before adding the other ingredients, but by doing this, the garlic flavor never infuses into the oil. I now am excited to try this with ALL of my recipes!!)
photo 3 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!infinity!!!!!!!!!

Use really good quality olives for a better flavor (from an olive bar or preserved in oil instead of in water). But in a pinch, olives in a jar work, too. And if you are gluten free, use Bionaturae gluten free spaghetti, as it is wonderful. This sauce is also amazing over quinoa, for those of you who want to cut down on your carbs.

Spaghetti del contadino (Farmer’s Spaghetti) 
(Adapted from Mama Agata’s cookbook)

1 lb pasta
1 ½ pounds ripe cherry tomatoes—the riper the better (use different colors for an especially beautiful dish)
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley (finely chopped)
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 dozen green olives, with or without pits
2 dozen black olives, with or without pits
1 Tablespoon capers (packed in salt, if available, and rinsed)
1 cup fresh arugula leaves

Cut the tomatoes in half and place them in a bowl with the chopped parsley. (Parsley is added to the tomatoes before heating them in oil to enhance the flavor of the tomatoes.) NOTE: if the cherry tomatoes are very large, you’ll need to cut them into quarters.
photo 2
Thinly slice the garlic and add it to the room-temperature extra virgin olive oil. Slowly heat the garlic and oil over a very low temperature so that the flavor of the garlic will pass into the oil as it cooks the garlic. When the oil and garlic are warmed and gently cooked, add the tomatoes and parsley, olives, and capers to the pan. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft. If you can’t find capers packed in salt, add some salt to taste. If you do find these capers, make sure you rinse them or they will be TOO salty.

Boil pasta until it is al dente. Drain pasta and add to the sauce. Cook for an additional two minutes.
photo 4
Add the arugula leaves just prior to serving so that they don’t lose their flavor.
photo 3-1 photo 5
Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil to further enhance the flavors. Dust with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
photo 2-1