As I reside abroad, I Skype my Mom and Dad in Italy every other day. The most common subject of conversation is guess what… food!
“What did you eat?” or “What are you cooking?” OR “How do I cook this..and that?” “What do I cook?” These are typically the Mom and Daughter topics that come up no matter how far away you live and even if you live in the same city.
Moms, especially Southern Italian ones, are always concerned about their young and less young children’s nutrition and they can come up with the most simplistic recipe, so simple that you would never think about it! Just like this one I’m about to share.
But before we get cooking, I want to briefly tell you about what makes these Moms so capable to even create their own specialties, often with just what is available in the refrigerator or pantry.
IN THE KITCHEN, SOUTHERN VS NORTHERN ITALIAN WOMEN
I can’t help but briefly cite the difference (at least according to my experience and in relation to my generation) between Southern and Northern women when it comes to cooking.
Northern Italian ladies (speaking in general) don’t have time to cook. Their focus is independence, which means work, work, work.
In fact throughout the years, Northern Italy has always been favored by development and job opportunities, geographically enhanced by the proximity of commercial exchanges with northern neighbor countries like Switzerland, France and Germany (just to name a few).
Southerners on the other hand, have mostly been “stay at home” moms with the goal (not necessarily for free will) of being perfect housewives, raise children and have a spotless clean house.
More than likely the rooted mentality of “the man goes to work while the woman takes care of the children and household” has its origin in the fact that Southern Italy has had much less industrial development and job opportunities.
Consequently, the work force was mostly constituted by men, while women were taught by Moms, Grandmothers and Aunts how to cook and saw; my Mom’s generation (40s/50s) was given “household classes” in school!
That being said and generally speaking, Southern Italian women manage to cook from the most articulate dish to the most simplistic one, ultimately even turning leftovers in a whole new other dinner, with no effort, and with pride.
STRUCK BY SIMPLICITY
Let’s now go back to the original subject.
As I’m on the phone with Mom one day, I expressed the craving of pasta with fresh tomatoes but complained about the fact that I find it very hard to get REALLY TASTY tomatoes!
So she told me what she had successfully tried with sugar plum tomatoes. The making of which SOOO INCREDIBLY FAST AND SIMPLE I could not believe I never came up with the same idea!
Pasta with Sugar Plum Tomatoes (pasta ai pomodori datterini)
- 1 pound Sugar Plum Tomatoes Fresh
- 6/8 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 4 tbsp Italian Breadcrumbs Unflavored
- 4 tbsp Mediterranean Oregano
- 12 oz Fresh or Dry Pasta I recommend: if long shape: angel hair, linguine, bucatini or spaghetti. Short shape: little ear, bowtie, shell.
- shaved Cacio Ricotta cheese (hard sheep ricotta cheese) For garnish
- salt As needed or desired
- Wash and dry the sugar plum tomatoes. Cut in half and place in a mixing bowl. Add EVOO, salt, oregano, 2 Tbsp breadcrumbs and mix until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Line an 8x8 inch pyrex or non stick pan with parchment paper, place the dressed tomatoes in it, sprinkle the remaining 2 Tbsp of breadcrumbs on top and bake in previously warmed oven at 356 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Meantime in a large pot bring salter water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook as directed on the pasta box of your choice, drain all the water and put pasta back in the pot.
- Add the baked plum tomatoes in the pot and gently mix with a large fork or tongs, until pasta is evenly covered by the oil and the tomatoes.
- Plate and shave the cheese on top. THAT'S IT! AS SIMPLE AS THAT!
- NOTE: when using the hard sheep ricotta cheese, this IS SALTY. So take it easy with the amount of salt you put in your pasta water and on the tomatoes.
You may also enjoy: Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce (Oregano and Basil Version)