Pasta al Pomodoro

Cover recipe- Bon Appetit, Pasta al Pomodoro: May 2011

Bon Appetit magazine is sharing  “The Italy Issue” for May, 2011.  Pizza!  Pasta!  Gelato!  Ultimate Recipes from Italy’s Heartland.  Easy Stove-Top Espresso.  Cook Like a Real Italian.  Who doesn’t love these captions?  The cover shares Pasta al Pomodoro, “the simplest, silkiest sauce you’ll ever make.”  They say that the secret is finishing off the dish with starchy reserved pasta water and butter.

Within the magazine, the cover recipe is part of a feature called, “Pasta Perfect,” a 10-point guide to the simplest, most luxurious sauces imaginable.  Here’s the rundown:
1.  Forget the pot- use a pan (what the pros do to cook almost-done pasta and sauce together- until there’s pomodoro clinging to every bite of pasta.
2.  Build the foundation– Make a classic pan sauce with olive oil, garlic, vegetables and pasta water.
3.  You’re not using nearly enough salt:  Add a small handful of kosher salt to a pot of boiling water, then drop in the pasta.  The noodles absorb water, so you’re actually seasoning the interior of an otherwise bland pasta.
4.  Don’t dump the pasta water! Starchy, salty pasta water is the secret ingredient in most sauces.
5.  Trust the tongs: use them to pick up a noodle to test for doneness, transferring noodles from pot to pan, to toss noodles in sauce, and to plate the pasta.
6.  Work the saute pan: Undercook the pasta by a couple of minutes, then finish cooking it in a saute pan with the sauce’s flavorful liquid.
7.  Everything’s better with butter: The secret to rich and silky sauces is extra fat.  Finish your sauce with olive oil, butter or both.
8.  Cheese is not just a garnish: Enrich the sauce with cheese (mixed in and melted), skip pre-grated cheese, grate it finely and think beyond Parmesan.
9.  It should look as good as it tastes: a well designed pasta bowl makes for a beautiful presentation- a broad bowl w/ high sides keeps the pasta warm, and a white bowl makes the colors in the sauce pop.
10.  Practice makes perfect pasta– step by step cheat sheet:  salt pasta water, saute vegetables for sauce, pour (reserved water onto vegetables), transfer pasta to pan with sauce, add more pasta water to sauce, stir in butter, sprinkle in fresh herbs, toss and plate.

Read my notes below to see what I thought of the cover recipe…

Print Print Recipe

Pasta al Pomodoro

Yield: Serves 4

Prep Time: 35 min

Cook Time: 45 min

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 minced medium onion
4 minced garlic cloves
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28 ounce) can peeled tomatoes, pureed in a food processor
kosher salt
3 large fresh basil sprigs
table salt
12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
2 Tablespoons cubed unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino

Directions:

1.  Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 12 minutes.  Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 to 4 minutes.  Add red pepper flakes; cook for 1 minute more.  Increase heat to medium, add pureed tomatoes, and season lightly with kosher salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly and the flavors meld, about 20 minutes.  Remove pan from heat, stir in 3 large fresh basil sprigs, and set aside.
2.  Meanwhile, bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-quart pot.  Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender.  Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.
3.  Discard basil and heat skillet over high heat.  Stir in reserved pasta water to loosen sauce; bring to a boil.  Add pasta and cook, stirring, until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes.  Remove pan from heat; add butter and Parmesan; toss until cheese melts.  Transfer to warm bowls; serve with more cheese, if desired.

Tips:

*Minced means "minced."  I thought I minced the onion well enough, but if you really want a smooth sauce as they're saying you get with this recipe then you need to really chop the onion into very, very small pieces.
*When you puree your tomatoes, give them enough time to get really pureed... otherwise you'll have chunks.  I thought I pureed mine, but you can see some small chunks in my photo.  In the BA photo, you can see a smoother sauce.
*I love the idea of adding basil sprigs to the simmering sauce and then removing them.  The flavor comes through nicely without adding chopped basil to the finished dish.
*Don't forget to reserve 1/2 cup pasta water when you drain your pasta!

Source:  Bon Appetit, May 2011

The results:

From the outset, this recipe looked boring to me… just a plain tomato sauce on pasta- not very exciting! Turns out that this recipe wasn’t boring at all.  In fact, our family LOVED this dish.  The sauce… so simple— tossed with the pasta is just wonderful.  I think it was the combination of butter + Parmesan that gave it a flavorful, velvety-smooth texture that you don’t normally have with a marinara sauce.

Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?

Definitely!  Loved the luxurious, velvety red sauce on plain pasta.  It’s the kind of rustic dish that one would hope to have if they visited Italy.  Perfect cover for “The Italy Issue.”

Lori is the founder of RecipeGirl.com. She's a professional recipe developer and food writer, and she's the author of The Recipe Girl Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: April 2013). Beyond food, Lori enjoys traveling, being outdoors, running, and maybe even singing a little karaoke. The mountains near Lake Tahoe are home for Lori and her husband of 18 years. They have an 12 year-old son who blogs at RecipeBoy.com.

23 Responses to “Lime & Blackberry Italian Meringue Pie”

  1. 1

    Tieghan — August 5, 2013 @ 8:01 am

    Wow, that meringue looks perfect!! This whole pie looks perfect. Just wow!

  2. 2

    Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet — August 5, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

    I have this issue of BA and always wanted to make the pie! It looks gorgeous!

  3. 3

    Joanne Eats Well With Others | Lime & Blackberry Italian Meringue Pie — August 6, 2013 @ 5:46 am

    […] If you’re looking for a pie that will make you stop dead in your tracks, jaw agape, and just say “WOW”. Then this is it. Check out my post about it over at Culinary Covers! […]

  4. 4

    Candice — August 6, 2013 @ 7:06 am

    Why isn’t it always blackberry season? I’ve never seen a pie like this but I can just imagine someone bringing it out after dinner and my heart bursting.

  5. 5

    Dawn — August 6, 2013 @ 7:26 am

    In the recipe for the blackberry wine reduction… it reads a fruity red wine… Would that be like a sangria??? I just don’t want to start this pie and reduce down a wine that may give off the wrong flavor… I ask only because we are adding more sugar and the blackberries on top of the reduced fruity red wine…I realize that this is a sweet component to counteract the tart lime curd. thank you

    • Joanne Bruno replied: — August 6th, 2013 @ 7:29 am

      Hi Dawn! I used a cabernet sauvignon but a shiraz might be nice also! I wouldn’t use sangria itself because it does have added sugar.

  6. 6

    sandra — August 6, 2013 @ 7:29 am

    Fabulous treat. And so inspiring.

  7. 7

    Dawn — August 6, 2013 @ 7:45 am

    Thank you so much. I thought sangria may be too sweet, but because it was being used in a sweet application – it kinda thru me. I agree Shiraz would be nice with the blackberries. Thank you for clearing that up. The fruity description kinda implies a sweeter wine – to me. Love your blog. I read it all the time

  8. 8

    Dan from Platter Talk — August 6, 2013 @ 8:21 am

    What a knockout dessert/treat t his is! It’s always good to find more recipes that use blackberries, especially this time of year – it’s their time to shine! Great post!

  9. 9

    Lynn — August 6, 2013 @ 10:01 am

    I wish I could snap my fingers and a slice of that would magically appear. It looks delicious.

  10. 10

    Faith — August 6, 2013 @ 10:21 am

    I am so happy you made this! I’ve been dying to ever since I saw it a couple years ago! It’s absolutely gorgeous…and some things (especially desserts ;) ) are definitely worth the extra work. This is a real show-stopper!

  11. 11

    Zainab @ Blahnik Baker — August 6, 2013 @ 10:26 am

    This is STUNNING!!

  12. 12

    Lindsey Johnson — August 6, 2013 @ 11:51 am

    I’ve had this bookmarked since then too! Looks fabulous, Joanne! I just need to go pick some fresh blackberries. They’re finally in season where I live.

  13. 13

    Jennifer | Bake or Break — August 6, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

    This is absolutely gorgeous!

  14. 14

    Ashley — August 6, 2013 @ 12:24 pm

    This is definitely one gorgeous pie – good to know it’s worth the effort!

  15. 15

    Anne ~ Uni Homemaker — August 6, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

    That is beautiful Joanne. Everything about this screams perfection! Well done!

  16. 16

    Beth — August 6, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

    Truly inspiring, Joanne. It does sound like a lot of work … but what a labour of love.

  17. 17

    debbie — August 6, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

    This is definitely a stop in your tracks kind of pie. One of the most delicious looking that I have ever seen!!! Just fabulous Joanne!!!

  18. 18

    Tracey — August 6, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

    Serious, such a gorgeous pie, Joanne!! The combination of flavors sounds heavenly, and definitely a fabulous reward for a day spent in the kitchen :)

  19. 19

    Suzie — August 6, 2013 @ 8:02 pm

    This sounds amazing Joanne!!

  20. 20

    gloria — August 7, 2013 @ 10:46 am

    this is to di for !! Love bon appetit too, I haven’t this issue:(
    love this Joanne!

  21. 21

    Karen — August 7, 2013 @ 3:48 pm

    My mouth is puckering just thinking about this pie. Beautiful!

  22. 22

    Betty — August 7, 2013 @ 10:43 pm

    Picking blackberries tomorrow! Don’t know if I’ll have time to make this masterpiece or not, but I sure do want to. :)

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