Created by Le Sirenuse’s executive chef Gennaro Russo to showcase the incredible range of tomatoes grown on the slopes of Vesuvius and in the rest of Campania, this intensely flavorsome pasta dish is spaghetti al pomodoro with superpowers. We’re posting it to celebrate the publication of the 2018 paper edition of the Sirenuse Journal, which features this recipe among a host of other articles.
Those who live elsewhere may not be able to source the exact three southern Italian heirloom tomato varieties that Gennaro uses when he makes this dish at La Sponda restaurant. But most good wholefood stores or farmers’ markets should offer matches for the three taste sensations that Gennaro combines in this dish – the acidity of the San Marzano, the sapidity of the Piennolo, and the sweetness of the Datterino. Serves four.
400g (14oz) good eliche (spiral pasta)
500g (18oz) Piennolo tomatoes, quartered
500g (18oz) San Marzano tomatoes, diced
500g (18oz) Datterino tomatoes
80ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
4 garlic cloves
A generous bunch of basil – most of it chopped julienne style, with a few leaf florets left aside
Begin by juicing the Datterino tomatoes in a centrifuge. Set aside the juice. Next, lightly crush the four garlic cloves without removing the skins, and fry them on a low heat in the olive oil. Add the Datterino juice, the diced San Marzanos and the quartered Piennolos, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, on a low heat that allows the salsa to reduce and thicken, but not dry out.
While this is simmering , put the pasta on to boil in abundant salted water (check the packet for the exact cooking time).
After half an hour, pass the contents of the pan through a mouli (better than a blender, as you don’t want to include the skins) to obtain a smooth purée. Drain the pasta while still slightly al dente, return to the pan, add the tomato salsa and the chopped basil, and stir on a low heat for thirty seconds until the pasta is entirely coated. Serve in bowls topped with fresh basil leaves.
Photo © Roberto Salomone