Citizens! It has been a very difficult January for the Duke of Depression – I have barely been able to rouse my flagging desire to work on the blog over this last week! However, I have managed to generate enough KE = .5 × m × v2 to create and share this delicious recipe for My version of perhaps the seminal Italian dish – pasta with tomato sauce! Not just ANY version, however – I have created one that incorporates ingredients and techniques from all over the Italian peninsula, as a way to unite what has always been a most fractured set of regions (formerly separate KINGDOMS) and which took the amazing Garibaldi to unite into a single nation!
Garibaldi, you say? Never heard of him? Then allow me to share a brief history of this most renowned of modern Italian heroes – the man who was singularly responsible for creating the modern country of Italy itself!
Giuseppe Maria Garibaldi (4 July 1807 – 2 June 1882) was an Italian general, patriot, revolutionary and republican. He contributed to Italian unification and the creation of the Kingdom of Italy. He is considered one of the greatest generals of modern times and one of Italy’s ‘fathers of the fatherland’, along with Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, Victor Emmanuel II of Italy and Giuseppe Mazzini. Garibaldi is also known as the “Hero of the Two Worlds” because of his military enterprises in South America and Europe.
Garibaldi became an international figurehead for national independence and republican ideals, and is considered by the twentieth-century historiography and popular culture as Italy’s greatest national hero. He was showered with admiration and praise by many intellectuals and political figures, including Abraham Lincoln, William Brown, Francesco de Sanctis, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, George Sand, Charles Dickens, Friedrich Engels and Che Guevara. Historian A. J. P. Taylor called him “the only wholly admirable figure in modern history”. In the popular telling of his story, he is associated with the red shirts that his volunteers, the Garibaldini, wore in lieu of a uniform.
Garibaldi was a follower of the Italian nationalist Mazzini and embraced the republican nationalism of the Young Italy movement. He became a supporter of Italian unification under a democratic republican government. However, breaking with Mazzini, he pragmatically allied himself with the monarchist Cavour and Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia in the struggle for independence, subordinating his republican ideals to his nationalist ones until Italy was unified. After participating in an uprising in Piedmont, he was sentenced to death but escaped and sailed to South America, where he spent 14 years in exile during which he took part in several wars and learnt guerrilla warfare.
In 1835 he joined the rebels known as the Ragamuffins (farrapos), in the Ragamuffin War in Brazil, and took up their cause of establishing the Riograndense Republic and later the Catarinense Republic. Garibaldi also became involved in the Uruguayan Civil War, raising an Italian force known as Redshirts and is still celebrated as an important contributor to Uruguay’s reconstitution.
In 1848, Garibaldi returned to Italy and commanded and fought in military campaigns that eventually led to Italian unification. The provisional government of Milan made him a general and the Minister of War promoted him to General of the Roman Republic in 1849. When the war of independence broke out in April 1859, he led his Hunters of the Alps in the capture of major cities in Lombardy, including Varese and Como, and reached the frontier of South Tyrol; the war ended with the acquisition of Lombardy.
The following year, he led the Expedition of the Thousand on behalf of and with the consent of Victor Emmanuel II. The expedition was a success and concluded with the annexation of Sicily, Southern Italy, Marche and Umbria to the Kingdom of Sardinia before the creation of a unified Kingdom of Italy on 17 March 1861. His last military campaign took place during the Franco-Prussian War as commander of the Army of the Vosges.
Quite the amazing man indeed – and just to put this in perspective, this is what Italy looked like BEFORE Garibaldi united it!
As you can see, the Italian peninsula and outlying regions were made up of many independent KINGDOMS, with different language dialects, customs and foods – even today, that is still the case! As such, I am honored to make My recipe for Pasta Pomodoro a legacy to the mighty Garibaldi as I attempt to unite the various regions of Italy in a single pasta dish to represent all of the disparate regions of Italia! 🙂
As noted in a great article from Italy Magazine:
Pasta al pomodoro – pasta with tomato sauce – is the most classic of all Italian first courses. It’s a dish that’s more than a symbol of Italian cuisine – it’s part of the national identity. And it has achieved this status in a relatively short time. Tomato was in fact introduced as a condiment for pasta only at the beginning of the 19th century. Up until then, pasta was eaten plain, or only with the addition of cheese.
Tomato was introduced to Europe by the Spanish conquistadores who imported it from Central and South America; in Mediterranean countries, tomato found an ideal habitat to grow. Originally, though, it was used in Italy only as an ornamental plant.
In 1778, the chef and author Vincenzo Corrado, in his book ‘Cuoco galante,’ (The Chivalrous Cook) mentions for the first time the ‘salsa al pomodoro’, but it will still be some time before it is used as a sauce for pasta. It was Neapolitan street sellers who, at the beginning of the 1800s, started using ‘a pummarola’ (tomato sauce in Neapolitan dialect) to accompany maccheroni.
The dish got an official recognition in 1837, when chef and author Ippolito Cavalcanti published the first recipe for ‘vermicelli al pomodoro’ (vermicelli are similar to spaghetti); by the end of that century, pasta al pomodoro had become popular all over Italy, and, through the Italian mass migration of that time, it would quickly be exported beyond national borders.
Did you know that spaghetti sauce did not even originate in Italy — of course, neither did the noodle. Tomato sauces actually come from Spain and the noodle was imported from China – a chef to a Spanish king first published a tomato sauce with noodles as a recipe in 1692 and the first Italian cookbook to include the recipe was L’Apicio Moderno, by Roman chef Francesco Leonardi, in 1790.
FYI – pomodoro means ‘golden apple’ and is a sauce with tomatoes as a base. The reason for the name is that the first tomatoes in Italy (brought over from the Americas and initially thought to be poisonous, since they are a member of the nightshade family) were a little bit yellow in color, making them resemble their local apples.
So – I have labored to create a recipe for pasta pomodoro with elements from many of the regions of both Northern Italy, Southern Italy, Sicily and Sardinia – I believe I have achieved My stated goal with a recipe that I am confident will blow all of TFD Nation away!
While there are many different types of pasta throughout Italy (at least 300!), the most luscious is that made at home with soft ’00’ flour and fresh whole duck eggs. The fat of the yolk gives the pasta added elasticity and richness. Throughout Italy, the duck egg is the most prized for making pasta. Hard to come by, duck eggs aren’t typically for sale so you have to know someone with a duck to obtain them. They are easier to obtain in the United States at gourmet markets or farmer markets – please do use them as they are significantly richer and more delicious than chicken eggs! Failing that, use free-range organic chicken eggs.
While the North of Italy typically uses soft 00 flour alone in their pastas (this is My preferred brand of 00 flour), central and Southern Italy uses semolina almost exclusively. This hard-wheat flour has grown in Italy’s warm and sunny south for centuries and as a result, the pasta traditions of the southern and central Italian regions are mainly based on semolina flour.
The production of dried pasta started off in Sicily where the warm winds and sea breezes were perfect to dry out pasta. Then, throughout the centuries, it extended to other parts of Italy such as Sardinia, Naples and even Puglia. Semola is also used to make fresh homemade pasta like orecchiette, trofie, pici, tonnarelli.
Although semolina is best known as an ingredient for pasta, in Italy it is also sometimes used to make bread, most famously the Pane di Altamura from Puglia. It can also be combined with eggs yolks, milk, and parmesan and baked in the oven to produce Roman-style gnocchi, a hearty, satisfying comfort dish that celebrates semolina’s particular consistency. In my pan-Italian version of the recipe, I combine both 00 and semolina flours to give a blend of toothsome savor and tenderness – this is My preferred brand of semolina.
Pasta needs a good olive oil when you are making the dough as well, and I have chosen to go with olive oil not from Tuscany or Liguria but instead from the less well-known far-Southern province of Puglia (also known as Apulia) – I find the flavor profile to be ideally suited to My personal taste. This is My preferred brand. To make a classic pasta shape from fresh pasta if you don’t have a pasta maker, either just cut the sheet into very thin strips or just use a handy Italian pasta cutting tool, known as a chitarra (guitar). You can buy an authentic one from here.
For the sauce, I start with the foundation of all TRUE pomodoro sauce – the real-deal San Marzano tomatoes! I am NOT talking about the fake versions sold in U.S. grocery stores – if it doesn’t say D.O.P. (short for Denominazione di Origine Protetta – literally “Protected Designation of Origin”) and it doesn’t make you wince from the price, they are FAKE. As the name suggests, this certification ensures that products are locally grown and packaged in Italy and from the correct kind of tomato grown in volcanic soil in its protected geographic region. These are the real deal.
I follow the tradition of Emilia-Romagna in adding meat broth to the sauce, and I also add in Barolo red wine from Tuscany, and a hint of colatura (an essence of cured anchovy). Colatura is used in the South of Italy to add umami savor – a top-quality version can be purchased from here. Garlic and hot red pepper are standard fare in Naples, fennel pollen is a common ingredient in Sicilian cuisine and I call for a Sardinian Pecorino Fiore Sardo for garnish – you can buy it from here. A sprinkling of fresh basil leaves completes the dish AND provides the final color of the Italian flag – red (sauce) white (pasta) and green (basil)!
Citizens, I hope My pan-Italian version of pasta with tomato sauce finds favor in your eyes – I will continue to try and get My depression under control for the benefit of the entirety of TFD Nation! If you would prefer a very simple but totally authentic Italian pasta and sauce recipe – none is easier than this one!
Battle on – the GeneralissimoPrint
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