Saturday, 1 October 2011

Linguine con pesto e pomodori secchi (Linguine with pesto and sundried tomoatoes)

My sun dried tomatoes

This Summer I wanted to try and do some the old fashioned things my mum used to do. I wasn't brought up to do this kind of thing and I never thought I would have done, but suddenly I find myself wanting to "capture" the past and "revive" traditions.
Just like the Odyssey, the recipe for sun dried tomatoes was never written, but "sang" in the most musical language on Earth, and preserved for future generations.

Drying tomatoes in Italy

I had never had the urgency to dry tomatoes, but lately I've been wanting to experiment, do things my mum used to do... and make, maybe in an attempt to keep alive those few little "bits" of her I am able to reproduce, maybe copy, in an attempt to keep a little bit of her alive. I don't want her to fade away...
Whatever made me do it, I am trying to work out, as you can see, but... yes, it was a labour of love! Those tomatoes had to be cut in half, sea salt had to be generously sprinkled all over them and I had to make sure they were constantly kept in full sun light (front of the house in the morning, terrace in the afternoon.)

They took a whole month! After two weeks of shifting, turning over and contemplating tomatoes spread out onto an ancient wash board, the cat started giving me funny looks and my husband said he thought I must be mad: "Why are you doing this? You can buy them at the shops, you know?" I knew...

 This is Audrey, the cat

But my tomatoes did dry in the hot Italian sun. It took well over a month. I actually could have named each one of those tomatoes, I got to know them so well! And, wrapped in a brown paper bag, I brought the little pockets of sunshine home, with me.
Today, remembering what my mum used to do, I washed my tomatoes in water and white wine vinegar, to get rid of the salt, patted them dry and... preserved them in jars, alternately layering tomatoes, with garlic, parsley and deliciously hot chilly pepper slices and then totally covering them in olive oil.

Ingredients I used to preserve my "sunny" tomatoes

I bet my mum would have laughed, if she could have seen me, and my attempts, but would I know she have been proud of me. And so am I. I am exploring the past and almost lost traditions...

The past preserved in a jar

I had time, today, and wanted to have some fun, so I experimented with a new recipe, which turned out to be absolutely delicious! One of the ingredient is, guesss... sun dried tomatoes!
Here it is:

Linguine con pomodori secchi e
Four servings:

400g (14 oz) linguine
5-6 sun dried tomatoes
in oilve oil
2 tbs capers
50g (2 oz) black olives, pitted
4 tbs pesto
1 clove garlic
1/2 hot chili pepper
4tbs pesto

This is how I made my pesto:

Basil Pesto
2 handfuls fresh basil
2 tbs mixed chopped nuts
or pine nuts
1/2 clove garlic
small piece chili pepper
handful parmesan or
pecorino cheese
4 tbs olive oil

For this recipe, you can buy a jar of pesto, or make your own. I don't like the look of bought pesto, nor I like the flavour: artificial and nasty, so I make my own, very easily, by placing all the ingredients in my baby whisker and just whizzing them all together. Easy! When it looks kind of creamy, it's done! The addition of hot chili pepper makes my pesto incredible!

Making my pesto

Having made or bought your pesto, chop the clove of garlic mentioned in the recipe for the sauce, and reserve. Slice the pitted olives and the sun dried tomatoes (I cut mine into strips)
Heat the oil in a pan and when hot (NOT before, otherwise your sauce will taste bland) add the garlic, fry until golden, then add olives, capers and tomatoes, stir for a minute and... it's done! The smell of this simple sauce is so unbelievable!

the sauce
Cook your linguine al dente, drain and reserve a small cup of water from the pasta pot.
Next, "throw" your pasta in with the sauce, add your pesto, more cheese and black pepper and some of the pasta water, if it appears to be too dry!
This dish is so easy to make and just delicious and very fresh.


  1. Ciao Anna!
    This was really a beautiful post, you've brought a tear to my eyes,made me smile and laugh!
    Never seen before how Southerners do this!
    Ti auguro una buonissima domenica!

  2. Dear Michela,

    Us "Southerners" are very clever people and know how to make easy money. The sun dried tomatoes you get in Northern Italy are mostly dried in ovens, I'm afraid... :(

    Thank you for enjoying my post.



  3. Hello My dear Anna

    What a delicious recipe - I wish I lived nearer to you and I would sweet talk you or bribe you into parting with one of the jars of sundried tomatoes (that is a labour of love). You are so right to make these family recipes and make them part of your culture. Curious how food reminds us of our mothers. Recently in Ireland my sister brought me breafast in bed (mum used always serve us breakfast in bed when we are on holidays)and it was a fond memory and like you know when served with love it tastle so much better.

  4. Hello Anna,
    This is such a coincidence! I was giving my herb talk at a lovely W.I. last week and we got talking about sun dried tomatoes and how none of us had ever managed to dry any ourselves. And here are you successfully making the most delicious looking jars full! (the Italian sun might have had some little part in your success...)As always I love reading your recipes and swooning over your photos- Jane x
    ps. I made your Mum's spag bol on Friday, it was really lovely.

  5. Hi Helen!

    I would happily let you have a jar of my tomatoes, if you lived near me... I really would!

    You are so right about preserving our traditions and culture. Food plays a very important role in it and much social history can be studied through food.

    Helen, I have many fond memories of home life and my mother features so heavily, with my dad, who was an angel on Earth. We were so lucky!

    Some mornings, when I wake up, I think that I would really love it if my mum was to appear with a cup of coffee, like she used to, to wake me up:"Anna... il caffe`"

    Memories are good, aren't they, helen?


  6. Hello Jane! How's the pretty booklady?

    Jane, I don't think you could ever sun dry tomatoes in UK, as they have to be kept absolutely dry. I had to bring them in at night or put them in a sheltered corner, outside, covered up.

    It was an experiment which I wanted to catch on camera, as I wanted to share the experience. My husband was very jealous of the attention my tomatoes were getting... funny!

    I'm glad you enjoyed the bolognese!



  7. What a lovely blog you have! I love the recipes - I am a keen cook myself. The photographs are fantastic - congratulations! I have added you on my blog list! I am looking forward to further ideas from you! Have a nice day!

  8. Hello, Emilie's daughter. What a nice title for a blog!

    Thank you for visiting my blog. I am flattered.

    Thank you for the compliments. I love it when people say they like my photos, as I put so much work and effort into them!

    Enjoy reading my blog: lots of Christmas recipes to come!



  9. Cara Anna - Thank you for your comment and your enrollment on my blog! I am very flattered that you think my photos are stylish... Molto gentile da parte Sua! Hope to hear from you again! Arrivederci!

  10. Cara Emilie's daughter (sorry, I don't know your first name!)... yes! You will hear from me again! I don't know much about your country, so reading your blog I will get an idea of life (at keast yours!) in Switzerland! Thank you!



  11. You are really a dear to comment on my blog so nicely! I was astonished how close you watched the pictures: The cheeseboard! Well thought! I also would like to hear what stories it would tell about long tables with many people, telling each others stories and secrets, friends feeling attached to each other or lovers talking sweet words... Grazie Anna e buona notte!

  12. Dear Anna, the pansies will survive winter I promise! The temperatures can drop many degrees below zero and even if their faces freeze - in spring time when the sun warms them just a little they wake up from their winter sleep and grow into big pleasures for the eye and the soul! You'll see...

  13. Galen is the brand of BGC Agriculture and Food Ltd with the aim of carrying Agean’s unique flavors. Galeno sta producendo pomodori secchi