Red sauce over noodles, with a twist Cucina Italiano hits the table molto presto, with cherry tomatoes

FAST & FRESH

April 21, 1993|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Contributing Writer

There seems to be no end to the number of Italian eateries springing up in the Baltimore area, whether they be coffeehouses, delis, or trattorie. Cucina Italiano is big these days.

Tomato reigns in this cuisine, and nothing is more gratifying than a robust red sauce over noodles. This nearly instant meal hails from an Old World Italian cookbook and is so nourishing for family, friends and certainly vegetarians. The small, exploded rounds of cherry tomatoes add a dense, interesting texture as a new twist for a marinara.

Accompany the entree with warm, crusty bread and a tossed green salad with sliced mushrooms, chick peas (canned and drained) and any other desired vegetables. For dessert, offer slices of fresh fruit and fig bar cookies.

Items you should have as staples are: olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt, Parmesan cheese, salad greens, salad dressing.

Your 10-items-or-less list:

1 pound capellini or very thin spaghetti

3 pints cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup Italian, Greek (or canned) olives

1 can chickpeas

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms

loaf of bread

fresh fruit

fig bar cookies

Capellini with burst cherry tomato sauce

Serves 4

1 pound capellini or very thin spaghetti

1/4 cup olive oil

3 pints cherry tomatoes, washed

2 cloves garlic

pinch red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon oregano leaf

1/2 cup Italian, Greek (or canned) pitted and sliced olives

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Have water heating for pasta. For the sake of timing, you will need to boil the pasta when the tomato sauce is in the final simmer stage. Heat oven to 400 degrees to crisp bread.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat until very hot. Add all the cherry tomatoes and roll occasionally to heat evenly. Cover with a lid and cook about 10 to 12 minutes, shaking pan or stirring once. Remove lid, and if tomatoes have not burst, continue to cook, pressing gently with the back of a spoon to mash. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, olives and salt to taste. Lower heat and continue to simmer for another seven to 10 minutes while you toss the salad, heat the bread and cook and drain the pasta.

Top pasta with a generous ladle of sauce and Parmesan cheese.

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