Tuesday, September 21, 2004


This recipe (source unknown) is pretty rich and slightly a pain to make (I loathe peeling tomatoes), so I don’t do it that often, but oh boy is it good, as one might expect anything with three cheeses to be. I think this was the first time I had really good, fresh (farmers’-market, of course) tomatoes for the sauce, and that made it even better—the sauce was actually red, not the pinky-orange I’d become accustomed to from grocery-store tomatoes, and bursting with flavor.

Besides the tomato-peeling annoyance, the only problem I have with this recipe is that it leaves a lot of leftover mascarpone it’s hard to find a use for. (Do you know mascarpone? I didn’t, until I learned this recipe. It’s like cream cheese, but not as sweet. It’ll be in the fancy-cheese portion of your supermarket, usually by the deli.) I have one other pasta recipe that calls for it, which I’ll probably be making next week, but that still only uses a tablespoon. I could probably improvise something with pasta in a mascarpone sauce, maybe with spinach? But beyond that, the only thing I know has mascarpone in it is cannoli, which I have no desire to make. Perhaps I’ll be trolling the Internet for mascarpone recipes, just so I don’t have to waste the stuff.

3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes
¼ cup olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon salt, plus extra for seasoning
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 pound penne
4 ounces fontina cheese, at room temperature, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Peel the tomatoes. How I do this is to boil some water in a mid-sized pot and cut Xs into the skin at the bottom of each tomato, then put the tomatoes in the boiling water for about a minute, until the skin starts to look baggy, then scoop them out with a slotted spoon and set them on the cutting board to cool a bit. Peel the loose skin off with your fingers and then core, seed, and chop them.

2. Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil for the pasta. Then heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When it's warm, add the garlic and stir and cook it 1 minute, making sure it doesn't brown. Add the tomatoes, liberally season with salt to taste (maybe half a teaspoon?), stir, and reduce heat to medium. Cook the tomatoes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick and the watery tomato liquid has cooked away, about 20 minutes.

3. When the water in the pot boils, add the tablespoon of salt and the penne, cook until al dente, and drain.

4. Add the pasta, the cheeses, and the basil to the tomato sauce, reduce the heat to low, and stirr until all the cheese is melted and the sauce is creamy. Grind some black pepper over it and serve it.

Serves: 6
Time: 1 hour

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