Getting your hands dirty
One of the things I like most about summer is having a fresh herb garden available. Outside on my deck I have pots filled with the essentials… basil, oregano, mint, sage, and rosemary. Not to leave out the four tomato plants that are also growing. I used to love to have a garden, but with work and lack of time, a patio garden seemed to be the way to go. Anyone who has grown their own tomatoes know that there is no substitute for ripe tomatoes right off the plant.
When I moved up from Brooklyn to Rockland County one of the first things I did was put in a large garden. Back then I was a lot younger and had much more energy to keep a large garden going. It must have been at least 25 feet x 20 feet. I tried growing everything, including asparagus, melons, corn. You name it, I grew it. There was nothing more pleasurable than growing your own vegetables. I remember the year Sugar Snap Peas came out and they were the variety that you let the pea grow to full maturity and you can eat the pod and all. They were like sugar. My son Michael was about 3 or 4 years old at the time and he would stand in front of the trellis eating the peas right off the vine. Nothing gave me more pleasure than watching him enjoy the fresh sweetness of something I grew.
I didn’t stop with the vegetable garden. I had planted 13 fruit trees on my property. Apples, pears, nectarines, peaches , filberts, and let’s not leave out a fig tree and grape vines. Yes, I turned into my grandfather. If that’s all I had to do I would love to farm. It’s a humbling experience working with the soil and watching your garden grow. And then enjoying the fruits of your labor.
This sauce is true to its name, quick and fresh. Adding the fresh basil after the sauce is cooked gives it a freshness that you can taste. Ideally you should use 8-9 fresh picked plumb tomatoes. But until they start coming in, the canned tomatoes work just fine. If you put the pot of water on before you make the sauce, just as soon as the water boils and the macaroni cooks the sauce will be ready.
- 2 oz pancetta, diced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- 6 large fresh basil leaves, julienned
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 28oz can Italian plumb tomatoes, hand crushed
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 1/4 pound caciocavallo cheese, cubed.
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 pound small ziti or any macaroni of your choice
In a pan large enough to hold the macaroni after it’s cooked, heat olive oil. Cook the pancetta and onions about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes.
Crush the tomatoes with your hands into the pan, or you can crush them with your hands in a large bowl and then place in the pan. Add the rest of the liquid from the can. You want chunks of tomato. Add oregano, salt and pepper and cook at a low simmer only 10 minutes.
When the pasta is cooked, drain and add the macaroni to the sauce. Mix well.
Take the pan off of the heat and add caciocavallo cheese, parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Mix well and serve immediately.