Rather than make conventional tomato sauce, Missy Robbins, chef at Brooklyn’s Lilia, uses her preserving skills to marinate tomatoes in a mix of garlic, spices, citrus and olive oil. The result is a supple, incredibly flavorful coating for the thick, tubular paccheri pasta. It’s also versatile enough to match with red or white wine. Robbins loves the high-toned aromatics of La Miraja’s Le Masche Barbera d’Asti, but the generous fruit of Manni Nössing’s Kerner, a white from Alto Adige, plays equally well with the preserved tomatoes.
Slideshow: Ziti Recipes
Four 28-ounce cans whole San Marzano tomatoes—tomatoes drained, halved lengthwise and seeded
4 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
7 garlic cloves—2 crushed and 5 thinly sliced
Wide strips of zest from 2 small lemons plus 1 teaspoon finely grated zest
Wide strips of zest from 1 small orange
2 basil sprigs
2 marjoram sprigs plus 2 teaspoons marjoram leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 pound paccheri or other wide, tubular pasta
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
How to Make It
Put the tomato halves in a colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar and 4 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt and toss gently. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the fennel and coriander seeds over moderately low heat, shaking the pan, until very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a spice grinder or mortar and let cool slightly, then coarsely grind.
In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups of the olive oil, the crushed seeds, crushed garlic, lemon and orange zest strips and the basil and marjoram sprigs. Warm over low heat until the oil begins to bubble, 7 minutes. Transfer the drained tomatoes to a deep ceramic baking dish and pour the warm oil over them. Let stand at room temperature for 3 hours.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the preserved tomatoes to a bowl. Using your hands or a metal spoon, coarsely crush them; you should have 3 cups.
In a large skillet, warm the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil over moderate heat. Add the sliced garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and crushed red pepper and cook until the tomatoes are warmed through, about 2 minutes; keep warm over low heat.
In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the paccheri until al dente. Drain well. Add to the skillet and stir to coat. Stir in the grated lemon zest and the marjoram leaves. Transfer the paccheri to a bowl, garnish with the cheese and serve.
The tomatoes can be refrigerated in the oil for up to 4 days. The strained oil can be reserved for another use.
2013 La Miraja Le Masche Barbera d'Asti Superiore.
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