The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, Mom!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!!)
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.