Lockdown in Rome day 31

31 days later and even the cats didn’t come to dinner. I spent the last month trying to structure my days with a schedule, but I plan on spending Easter weekend destructuring. I need a break.

My cousin who lives in Japan (Ciao Jaime!), asked if I had any creative ideas to spruce up spaghetti. We tend to use canned or fresh tomatoes with pasta instead of sauce in jars over here. Although there is a jar of deer ragu on our shelf that I am looking forward to…

So the below suggestions apply to when making pasta with canned tomatoes, basically like this: Add a fat to the pan like olive oil, add the tomatoes and some salt and cook the tomatoes down until they are thick and glisten from the fat. Then add the cooked pasta and toss.

But there are endless ways to mix it up:

  • Use fish sauce instead of salt to add some umami flavor. I almost always use colatura or anchovy sauce instead of salt and I bet there are some very interesting fish sauces in Japan.
  • Instead of oil, dice and use some fatty pork — guanciale, pancetta or bacon.
  • Before adding the tomatoes, add chopped onion and cook until soft, or crushed garlic and cook until golden.
  • Add a can of tuna after the tomato has cooked down.
  • Top the plate of pasta with a fried egg.
  • Add anchovies to the tomato while cooking it down.
  • Roast the tomatoes in the oven with some garlic cloves, anchovies and butter. Maybe some red pepper flakes.
  • Use a different cheese than parm after the pasta is cooked, like pecorino, ricotta or mozzarella. Or yogurt.
  • Use a different tomato. We’ve got canned yellow and red, and San Marzano, and whole and pulpy and diced and crushed.
  • Try some spice like red pepper, oregano or mint.

What else? What do you add to your pasta and tomato to mix it up?

Meanwhile, I still like writing down what I eat in lockdown: Farro flakes for breakfast. A big salad as we got another vegetable delivery this morning and the leftover bean and spinach soup for lunch. Two pizzas for dinner. One with onions and cheese and the other with mashed potatoes and lonzino (pork loin that has been cured and air-dried).

Eat well. Stay safe.

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