My holidays are nearly over! I don’t mind too much, It’s been good month. It’s actually rather nice to be home in Rome, and apart from the occasional wave of irrational anxiety – the kind I experience on Sunday nights, Monday mornings, the end of a break and the start of anything new however nice – I am quite looking forward to going back to work.
I think! Just writing that has brought on another wave. So anticipating the waves, I have been trying to get myself back into some of the nicer rhythms of my everyday life – the ones which have been happily kicked aside these holiday days – hoping they will help soften the blow of routine which starts on Monday; getting up at a reasonable hour, going to the market earlyish in the mornings, having the laundry under some sort of control; having breakfast at about breakfastime and lunch at about lunchtime; Not having a glass of wine with every meal. And pasta lunches.
When I say pasta lunches, I’m talking about the ones I talk about all the time. The ones we both come home for because more often than not Vincenzo is playing at night. The ones we can have because some jobs in Italy still recognise how nice it is to have a good lunch at home before going back to work. The ones that don’t take too long, The ones Vincenzo claims are fundamental, afterall, he’s Sicilian, he is of a pasta dependant nature.
A bit like the cake, I can count our core and faithful simple pasta lunch repertoire on two hands, it varies, we improvise, but basically it’s; the tomato one, the other tomato one and the other tomato one, the chickpea one, the clam one, the courgette one, the garlic and chilli one, the pecorino and pepper one.
And now there’s this one, a new arrival, for the summer repertoire at least, Pasta with a raw sauce of tomatoes, olives, capers, garlic, chilli, rocket and loads of really nice olive oil.
It is most defiantly a summer pasta because it all about good, red, ripe, juicy tomatoes. When I first made it I was a little worried, it all looked a bit fragmented, and Vincenzo, a man who likes his pasta coated with a slow cooked sauce that clings to every piece, looked alarmed. Then we ate it. It is good,light, fresh but deeply flavoured, with a real spark, heat. from the peppery rocket.
The flavour is such, because you make the sauce beforehand, allowing the roughly chopped tomatoes, salty capers, olives, chilli, mashed garlic and oil to sit for a while, lounging and mingling before mixing it with the warm pasta. Then you have a lovely light sauce of tomato juices and oil infused with the garlic and the intense, deep flavours of the capers and olives to coat the pasta.
We had a glass of wine, after all I am still on holiday. We thought me might need Parmesan on top, we didn’t really, I put some on my second helping just to see and it was very nice, but unnessearay. I think a blob of ricotta would be really good on top.
Now I really should sharpen my pencils and unpack the last holiday bag – I would rather stab myself in the hand with a sharpened pencil than unpack that bag. Maybe I will have a cup of tea first, after al,l I am still on holiday. Oh and on a practical note, the meze maniche is good (it means short sleeves by the way) but penne would work just as well.
Pasta with tomatoes, garlic, chilli, olives, capers and rocket.
From the lovely lovely ‘Acorn House‘ cookbook by Arthur Potts Dawson
- 1kg ripe, red, juicy, plum or roma tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small dried pepperoncino chilli
- 150g salted capers (soaked for 30mins in water)
- 200g black olives
- a big handful of washed rocket
- 600g pasta
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus extra for serving
Slice the tomatoes in half, scoop out the seeds and then chop them coarsely.
Peel the garlic and smash the cloves with the back of a fork into a little pile of salt (1 teaspoon.)
Crumble the chilli, rinse the capers and chop then coarsely, pit the olives and cut them in half.
Coarsely chop the rocket.
Mix the tomato, chilli, garlic, capers, olives and olive oil in a large bowl, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, stir and leave to sit for 30 minutes.
Cook the penne in a large pan of fast boiling, well salted water until al dente. drain the pasta and then stir it into the tomatoes.
Add the rocket to the bowl, stir.
Serve and finish with more extra virgin olive oil.