Simplicity. It’s perhaps THE hallmark of Italian cooking and something I have preached numerous times. The kicker, so to speak, is that when things are simple, your ingredients must be perfect. Otherwise, you’ll set yourself up for failure. The recipe below relies on only 3 ingredients, yet when executed correctly, yields stunning results.
As the name suggests, this dish originates from the Campanian town of Sorrento along the southern coast of Italy. Besides its simplicity, it can be made from start to finish in less than 30 minutes.
Pasta alla Sorrentina
1 pound Rigatoni or Paccheri Pasta
20 ounces fresh tomatoes
8 ounces smoked Scamorza, cubed
4 cloves of fresh garlic, diced
Large handful of Basil, torn
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
It’s imperative to use the best, ripest tomatoes you can find. For this dish, they came from my garden. As a substitute for the Scamorza, you could use smoked or fresh mozzarella.
Dice the tomatoes and garlic. In a pan large enough to hold the cooked pasta, saute the garlic in a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1-2 minutes. Take care not to let the garlic brown. Add the tomatoes, lower the flame and simmer for about 15 minutes until the tomatoes begin to break down. While the tomatoes are cooking, dice the Scamorza.
Here is a shot of the cubed Scamorza. You will have extra cheese remaining but if you use a smoked variant it will keep close to a month in the refrigerator.
Once the tomatoes are softened, remove the pan from the heat and add the basil. Allow to sit on the back of the cooktop until the pasta is almost completely cooked.
When the pasta is almost al dente, return the tomatoes to a low flame and add the cubed Scamorza. Gently toss through. After about 3-4 minutes the cheese will begin to soften and melt. Eventually, the magic of “Al Telefono” will begin to take hold.
At this point, you’re almost finished. Once the pasta is al dente, drain to the sauce pan and gently fold the pasta into the sauce. I use the term gently because the more aggressively you stir, the tendency that the cheese will form clumps increases. Don’t over fold it.
Finalmente, Rigatoni alla Sorrentina !
Check out my Recipes page for more excellent ideas and enjoy!
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