Time to get my Italian on. My sister used to work in a fruit shop run by an Italian family. She was a fussy eater when she started there and didn’t like tomatoes. Oh, how quickly that changed! You weren’t allowed to be fussy there. They made it impossible to refuse offers of food. The owner, Peter, would follow my Dad around in the shop with various bunches of fruit and say things like “Warren, try these bananas, they’re beautiful” and put them in Dad’s shopping trolley. It wasn’t long before Dad realised that nothing was ever free, and while this seemed like a nice gesture at the time, he always had to pay for it at the register. Mum would often say things like “why did you buy paw paw?” and Dad would innocently say “Peter made me, I had no choice”, and he was right. There was no choice. So not only did my sister start liking tomatoes because not liking them was not an option, she also learnt about the wonderful things you could do with tomatoes. She worked there for many years and quickly became part of the family. She has dark hair and fair skin so many people actually thought she was their daughter. She worked there around the age when one starts to become interested in cooking and her fruit shop mum, Joanne started sharing recipes. Long story short, I tried cooking my first proper napolitana sauce using Joanne’s recipe and homegrown tomatoes.
The recipe says to use 1.5kg of Roma tomatoes, but I happened to have about 2kg of Romas and Big Reds so I used a combination.
It took me forever to take the tops off each tomato, score them, dip them in almost boiling water for 10 seconds, transfer them to an ice bath, then peel them. So labour intensive! The Roma tomatoes peeled a lot easier than the Big Reds.
I then chopped each tomato in half and squeezed out the juice and seeds. This was also easier with the Roma tomatoes than the Big Reds because the Big Reds have so many intricate chambers of seeds.
After about an hour of tomato prep I could finally chop them up and chuck them in my saucepan. I cooked the sauce for about 3 hours and it made the house smell amazing! In 3 hours of cooking I probably only needed about one cup of boiling water to add to the sauce.
Homemade napolitana served on egg fettuccine, topped with basil and freshly grated pecorino. It would have been better with parmesan because the strong flavour of the sauce overpowered the pecorino, but I didn’t have any fresh parmesan. I licked my plate afterwards. And Adam kept opening the fridge and sniffing the leftover sauce. Must be a good sign!