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Cooking with Tomatoes by Carmela D'Amore

Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C when in season; they also are an important ingredient to use in Italian pasta dishes, commencing from the very traditional Napolitana sauce to your extravagant Pescatore Marinara.

  • Napoletana - Neapolitan sauce, also called Napoli sauce or Napoletana sauce is the collective name given (outside Italy) to various basic tomato-based sauces derived from Italian cuisine, often served over or alongside pasta. In Naples, Neapolitan sauce is simply referred to as la salsa, which literally translates to the sauce.sauce is the base for your perfect dish, it can be used all year round as the foundation of all of your tomato sauces.
  • Matriciana sauce - Sugo all'amatriciana (Italian pronunciation: sugo allamatriˈtʃaːna]) or alla matriciana (in Romanesco dialect) is a traditional Italian pasta sauce based on guanciale (cured pork cheek), pecorino cheese, and tomato.It is great for summer and winter, especially using fresh chilli, basil, crushed garlic, you can add pancetta, it is common in Australia and America, that we have implemented bacon as a substitute for pancetta, but in today’s fast cosmopolitan Australia, we have extended our palate and are willing to try outside of the box we have lived in for decades, and are venturing into trying new ingredients, we are living more outside of our comfort zone, which has become liberating for cooks and chef’s, allowing you to become more creative in your kitchen.
  • Pescatore – I love this dish, it is a timeless classic and yet, chefs from all over the globe have implemented their own touch, adding flavours from all over the world, including spices. Today it is very common for your local restaurant to be adding crab bisque that has been simmering for hours, with spices, and flavours that have a robust texture to add more body to it.
  • Arabbiata - Arrabbiata sauce, or sugo all'arrabbiata in Italian, is a spicy sauce for pasta made from garlic, tomatoes, and red chilli peppers cooked in olive oil. "Arrabbiata" literally means "angry" in Italian; the name of the sauce refers to the spiciness of the chili peppers. It is also great for whipping up in no time, you can add diced brown onion, caramelise it with olive oil in a pan, and add red roasted peppers, and a handful of pitted black olives (calamata) to the base of your Napoli sauce, while its cooking here are a few tips:
  • Add basil a few minutes just before the dish is reducing, and garlic as the flavours remain in your palate while eating, there are still fresh and mouth-watering, you will find your guests asking you how come it just tastes so fresh, this is the key to it all, creating true magic in your own kitchen.
  • Puttanesca - Spaghetti alla puttanesca (pronounced [spaˈɡetti alla puttaˈneska]; literally "spaghetti in the style of a prostitute" in Italian) is a tangy, somewhat salty Italian pasta dish invented in the mid-20th century. I love this dish it is so simple to cook, you can whip it up in no time, even coming home from work and you just don’t have the energy or time to cook, well my beautiful friend, you will enjoy cooking this dish for yourself and your family, as it is just bursting with flavours. You just fry a handful of black-pitted calamata olives, with half a handful of baby capers, (why baby capers? Through experience I have found them to be more edible and have a better texture than normal capers) about 4 filleted anchovies, and fry them in your frying pan refer to my book about which fryingpans to use. Then add you luscious Napoli. (Carmela’s Cucina Povera – a journey of self discovery and healing through Sicilian Cooking)
  • Here is a tip with this dish, you need to let the anchovies dissolve while they are being sautéed in the frying pan, when they have dissolved you then add your Napoli, and fresh chilli, garlic and a handful of fresh chopped basil.
  • Tip with tomato base dishes you need a pasta that will soak up the sauce, did you know that, penne rigate, fusilli, mafaldine, bugatini, casarecce, strozzapredi, rotelli, gemelli, macaroni? All of these pasta’s are a great way to compliment the sauce you have made?
  • Remember to always have fresh Parmigiano, or pecorino, Reggio padano. I love baked ricotta on my tomato sauce pasta’s most of my tomato-based pasta’s especially my Norma dish.
  • Tip: Cheeses that have strong flavours enhances your dish, and you don’t need to add extra salt or pepper.

It is an exciting time to be able to cook meals and enjoy them, you can add whatever you like with your sauces, even if you don’t like tomato, you can add cherry tomatoes to your ingredients and you still have created a mouth-watering dish. There are no boundaries in cooking, when you cook, it is a chance for you to experiment and use your creative senses, listen to what your palate is telling you, don’t be afraid, as practice makes perfect. You are the creator of your kitchen, you are in control, and you can never go wrong, it’s the experiences in cooking that give you the confidence to stretch yourself further.

  • Adding fresh seasonal vegetables to your basic Napoli sauce is also very nutritional.
  • Tip: You can steam your vegetables and add them to your Napoli, sauce and remember at the very end to add a handful of fresh basil and a clove of crushed garlic tossing your favourite pasta together. Drizzle virgin olive oil over your pasta dish and then add your freshly grated parmesan, I guarantee you will enjoy your meal.

Buon Pranzo e Buon appetito, Buon Cibo e Buona Cena!

Come join me and cook with Carmela.

Carmela D’Amore

Carmela D’Amore

Carmela D’Amore is an International Sicilian chef, the daughter and granddaughter of Sicilian immigrants, with over 40 years experience in small business. She is a representative in Sicilian food and culture, a published author and currently the executive chef of Sorrento Trattoria, an Italian Restaurant situated on the Mornington Peninsula.