Montalcino Red Sauce
My husband and I fell in love with a simple red sauce made from fresh cherry tomatoes that we had at a little restaurant named Il Grappolo Blu in Montalcino, Italy, the heart of Tuscan wine country. Since our local cherry tomatoes only compare in flavor in the height of the summer season, this recipe uses canned Italian plum tomatoes from San Marzano that you can find year round. Its the closest weve come to the original. Enjoy and mangia with a glass of vino rosso or Brunello di Montalcino if possible!
2 28-oz Cans Italian San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
12 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 medium onion, diced
Red pepper flakes to taste
Salt to taste
Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste
Extra Virgin olive oil: enough to generously cover the bottom of your sauce pan
12 fresh basil leaves, washed
1 pound long fusilli pasta
Fresh Basil leaf
Fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for grating
This recipe can be made in under a half hour if you cook the pasta while the sauce is simmering. Start by putting a large pot of water on high heat. Salt the water by measuring a little mound into the palm of your hand. Put an oven safe pasta serving bowl into the oven on warm so it will be ready for serving.
Next, pour the tomatoes into a large mixing bowl, keeping all the juice from the cans. Break the tomatoes by hand, until the larger chunks are about the size of grapes. Heat the oil in a 6 quart or larger sauce pan. When hot, add the pepper flakes, a pinch of salt, and the diced onions. When the onions are translucent, add the whole cloves of garlic. As the onions turn golden brown, add the tomatoes to the pan. Cook on medium for about 15 minutes.
At this point, you can add the pasta to the water, and cook as/per the package directions until al dente (probably about 14 minutes, but be sure to test a few minutes before the cooking time marked on the package so it doesnt get soft).
While the pasta cooks, gently tear the basil leaf into large pieces, and stir into the sauce pot. Salt to taste, but remember not to overdo it because youll be adding grated cheese when you serve. Grind in fresh pepper from the pepper mill to taste. Cook on low for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and put about a third of the sauce in the bottom of the warm serving bowl. Drain the pasta into a colander, and put it into the bowl with the sauce while piping hot. Toss the sauce in the bowl with the pasta, and then add most of the remaining sauce, keeping a cup or two for the table.
Serve hot into individual bowls. Add basil leaf for garnish, and top with fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Mangia!
Recommended side dishes are an Insalata Tricolore, (see Tip for Making Salad Dressing in a Bowl) and Grilled Italian sausages or Pork Chops. And of course, you must eat all of this with a large glass of Tuscan red wine. If youre very lucky, enjoy a glass of Brunello di Montalcino, the king of Tuscan reds! But if saving for a trip to Italy, any Tuscan red would be magnifico! Buon appetito!
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