Not all of us have a ready and waiting larder packed with bottles of sun-drenched pera d’Abruzzo tomatoes that have been squished into passata ready to make a wonderful pasta tomato sauce better known as sugo in Abruzzo. We try hard to recreate the flavours of Italy but those tasty tomatoes whose seeds are passed on from generation to generation are hard to beat.
To the rescue comes Annamaria, who I recently stayed with and who shared what to do with dreary tomatoes, especially when spring is in the air and herbs are no longer just plain woody but with visible new tender leaves and added pungency. I may not have the best tomatoes but her added cornucopia of herbs makes any base of dreary tomatoes burst with an aromatic flavour and life! We tried her sugo cooked with some of her memorable polpettine di ricotta (fried ricotta balls), utterly delicious!
Annamaria used to combine working with her husband on their former dairy farm just outside Cellino Attanasio in the province of Teramo with being a weekend cook at local agriturismi. Their B&B is still a farm but, in a nod to retirement they gave up their milk herd and now just raise beef and olive oil. Of course she has amazing tomatoes, with bottles of passata and ‘sugo pronto’ that neatly fill a casetta (little house) next to her hens. What’s interesting in here is the brown boxes full of those bottled tomatoes ready for their sons to take back with them to northern Italy where they work, lucky boys!
- Aromatic Sugo
- 750ml of Chopped Tomatoes
- 3 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Sage leaves
- 1 small sprig of Tarragon
- 1 small sprig of Rosemary
- 1 sprig of Thyme
- 1 sprig of Savory
- 1x sprig of Marjoram
- 3 Chives
- 1 clove of Garlic
- ½ a Carrot
- ¼ of an Onion
- ½ stick of Celery
- 200 g of Pasta Mezze Maniche (shortcut pasta)
- Cook all of the sugo ingredients together on a high heat for about 30 minutes.
- After cooking remove all the herbs, turn off the heat and add 3 basil leaves.
- Add your al dente drained cooked pasta into the sauce
- Stir the pasta in the sauce for 5 minutes on a very low heat and add a little cheese to give it a slightly saltier taste.
- During summer you can also add a piece of peperoncini (chili pepper) during the cooking with all the herbs.