Viva Italia! + Recipe No. 1

The night before last I arrived in Mestre, Italy, the mainland city closest to Venice (right across the lagoon). I am doing a home stay here for four or five weeks.

The family I am staying with is great and they have a cute home near the local square. Yesterday I found a running route from the house, around the park across from Venice, and back, that is a bit more than six miles. I haven’t run properly for weeks, and was planning to begin today. I totally forgot about Murphy’s Law when I made that mental commitment — of course I got really sick beginning last night and spent the whole day in bed! I have no voice and everything hurts. This has been a complete waste of valuable time I could have spent eating, oh yes, and running.

Before I became bed ridden, I was able to try a local delicacy, tramezzinos (or Venetian sandwiches), learn how to cook a basic pomodoro sauce, and sample a fabulous coffee (no doubt this will be a daily occurrence). Tramezzinos are made with soft, white, crustless bread and various fillings such as cheese, meats, egg, tuna, and vegetables — basically anything can go inside. The only problem for me is that most of them come with mayonnaise, which I hate. I had a couple without and they were simple and tasty. There is also a deep fried version of these sandwiches, sans mayo. My favorite was anchovy and cheese. Deep fried oreos have nothing on this.

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I am going to try to learn some Italian recipes while I am here and I will share them on the Blog. The first and most basic is the pomodoro, or tomato, sauce, that I learned how to cook yesterday. This is so easy to make and so healthy. It is more art than precision so feel free to modify.

We took a pack of roma tomatoes (about 11) and peeled them. If you wash them in hot water, peeling is easier. Our tomatoes did not have many seeds, but if yours do, you should remove them. After the seeds are removed, chop the tomatoes. Next, very thinly slice half of a small or medium sized brown onion. Thin is key as you don’t want to have chunks of onion overpowering the tomato flavor. Add the onion to a pan with already heated olive oil (medium heat is fine), and cook them until they are caramel color. If they get crispy or dark, they are overcooked and you should take them out of the pan. As the onions are cooking, you can break them into small pieces with the spatula, or you can do that before adding them too the pan. When the onions are cooked, add the tomatoes and cook these for a little while, turning up the heat a little, until all of the liquid has dissolved from the pan. We also added a little tomato sauce from a jar (this is made purely of tomatoes, no additional ingredients) to thicken our sauce. When there is no liquid left, add about three leaves of basil (sliced), or more if you like, and a pinch of salt. That’s it. Boil pasta for 8-10 minutes in well salted water until al dente (well salted is important). Serve pasta with sauce on top and freshly grated Parmesan.

About half way finished and still a bit watery (pre-basil):

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Sauce compete:

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Dished up:

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Hunks of parmesan from stock standard super market. Yum:

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Alright, that’s all for now. I hope I am better tomorrow so I can run, head over the bridge to Venice, and eat (being able to speak would be good, too, though less critical). Keep your fingers crossed.

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2 thoughts on “Viva Italia! + Recipe No. 1

  1. Tomato is good for a cold!
    Please check and see how horrible the Robert St. John food blog is. I intend to let the Clarion Ledger know.

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