June 28, 2013

Osteria di Kara

During college I was able to study abroad and spend a semester in Venice.  I was spoiled, living in a huge house on the Grand Canal, next to the Guggenheim Museum.  We had a little produce shop a few doors down from our house, run by Bruno, an Italian Mr. Rogers, who would wake up before the crack of dawn to gather produce off the boats.  You were always better off visiting Bruno in the morning because you never knew if he was going to reopen in the afternoons.
It was here that I really first started cooking for myself.  I couldn't just go out to eat every night, and there wasn't a cafeteria to rely on.  One of the dishes I learned to make during this semester was an Italian flag pasta.  Our Italian professor, Paolo, came over one night with his friend, Alex, and taught us how to make it, though I think Alex may have just drank wine while we all cooked!

It's really simple, and a great summer dish when tomatoes are in season.  Start by scoring the bottoms of your tomatoes and blanching them in hot water for about 90 seconds.  You'll see the skin start to peel away, and that's when you want to pull them out of the water.  Once they're cool enough to handle, peel the skin off.  It should come off quite easily.  You'll want to reserve the skin so you can squeeze the juice out of them for your sauce.
Then just dice up your tomatoes into whatever size chunks you like.  Just make sure to save all the juices and add them to your sauce.  
To the tomatoes, you'll add chopped garlic, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, some dried Italian seasoning, red chili flake, and the secret ingredient...a splash of soy sauce!
Once your pasta is ready, toss it into the bowl and let the hot pasta "cook" your sauce.  You'll also want to add a bit of the starchy pasta water to help your sauce stick to the pasta.  Top with some parmesan cheese, and you're good to go!
It's quick, tasty, and only requires turning on 1 burner.  So on those hot summer days, you won't be heating up the kitchen too much.

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