I picked the last of the "summer" tomatoes some time in November, and as you can see in this photo a number of them were still green. Optimistically, I placed the bowl in a window, prayed for sun and soon was taken up with other, more pressing matters. Over a month later, as I was casting about for something to make for dinner I realized I was reaching a now-or-never point with the summer tomatoes. And so imagine my surprise when I found that nearly all of them were still in good condition and ready for use in early January. Amazing!
To use these lingering reminders of sunny days on the terrace, I turned to one of our favourite pasta sauces: Amatriciana. The Critic discovered this delicious sauce at the little Italian restaurant around the corner from our old apartment; he loves it because it's spicy and full of flavour. I love it because I can often make it up with things I happen to have in the kitchen and so it often saves me a trip to the store. Oh, and I think it's pretty tasty too!
Amatriciana refers to the town of Amatrice, where a public feast in August features this great sauce. Traditionally, it's served over bucatini (thick hollow spgahetti) but in our local Italian it always came with penne. For myself, I serve it on anything that seems likely to hold the sauce well, for example rigatoni or penne.
This recipe is based almost entirely on my own experience with the sauce in restaurants. When I was given Marcella Hazan's cookbook Essentials of Classical Italian Cooking this was one of the first recipes I looked up. I was extremely happy to find she had included a recipe, but I quickly decided that it was missing at least one essential ingredient: fresh sage. Oh and garlic. (Can you imagine an Italian recipe without garlic? I find it difficult.)
So this is my recipe, based on the sauce made by the restaurant Giallo Rosso in the 16th arrondisement of Paris:
5-7 shallots, sliced lengthwise in strips
6 strips of British or Canadian bacon (I know you are supposed to use pancetta, but honestly this works well too!)
2 fat cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups of chopped tomatoes
1 Tbs dried sage
1/2 to 1 Tbs dried pepper flakes (depending on how hot you like it)
1 tsp fresh or frozen thyme
Sauté the shallots in a little oil. While they are softening, slice the bacon in thin short strips. Add them to the onions, along with the garlic. Once the bacon is cooked through, drain the mix of its grease. Add the tomatoes and spices and cook for half an hour or so, long enough to cook down the tomatoes. Taste for spices and seasoning. In the meantime, put on the pasta to boil. Toss the pasta with the sauce as soon as it is done and serve with freshly grated pasta. MMMM....
And if you are in Paris and would rather try the original sauce that hooked us, the chef from Giallo Rosso (who is superb) has since moved to another location and still serves the delicious Penne all'Amatriciana at:
2, rue de Sontay
Tel.: 01 40 67 18 68