Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pappa al Pomodoro

I think I've only had Pappa al Pomodoro one time in Italy.  I had a craving for it last weekend after the magazine Sale e Pepe arrived from Italy. I had all the ingredients on hand, except of course, the authentic salt-less bread from Tuscany. I used a stale Ciabatta from Trader Joe's.

Before I started the soup, I had to write Marta in Italy to confirm my understanding of "seven veils" which was called for in the cooking instructions.

I made 1/4 the recipe for the first attempt.  It was so good, I made the recipe again and tested freezing single serving portions, for my hot lunch at work.  (It froze and reheated very nicely.  I was not disappointed in how it looked or tasted.)

During my next trip to Italy, I will bring back a loaf of bread from Firenze and prepare this recipe again to compare the results.  I certainly understand I cannot make these dishes 100 per cent authentically, but I know my cooking experiments here, are fun, tasty and not like anything I can eat here in most restaurants, labeled Italian. That seems to be changing in Los Angeles County, where one can now find modern Italian food, as it's cooked today in Italy.

Pappa al pomodoro

8-10 Servings
2.2 pounds mature tomatoes (or drained canned tomatoes)
2 red onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, whole but crushed
1 handful fresh basil leaves, without stems and torn into pieces.
Loaf stale Tuscan style bread or ciabatta*
1 liter vegetable broth
Extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of dried hot red peppers

Cut the bread into cubes.
Finely chop the onion and in a large pan, saut√© in olive oil, until soft.  Add hot pepper flakes.
Peel the tomatoes.  Crush them with your hands and add them to onions.  Cook 7-8 minutes.
All the bread and half the broth, the garlic and the basil.  Mix it well, until the bread becomes soft and puffy.  Add the rest of the liquid, even though it might seem to be too much.
Let it cook, without stirring over medium-low heat.  Now the soup must form “7 veils” which means, let it form a skin and then stir it.  Do this 7 times.
The soup will be ready in 30-45 minutes, depending on when the veils form.
At the end, serve in flat soup bowls, with a drizzle of good olive oil over the top.

*Hint:  cut the bread into cubes before it becomes too hard to cut.  Store loosely in glass jar.


Pappa al pomodoro 
Dalla rivisata Sale e Pepe

Per 8-10 persone

1 kg di pomodori da salsa mature (o di pelati, compreso il liquido)
2 cipolle rosse
2 spicchi di aglio
1 manciata di foglie di basilica
2,5 hg di pane toscano posato raffermo
1 litro di brodo vegetale
Olio extravergine d’olivia
Peperoncino in polvere

1.       Tagliate il pane a dadini. Affettate finemento le cipole e fatele soffriggere con un po’ di olio in un tegame largo e con il bordo alto circa 10 cm.  Qando sarrano appassite, salatele, aggiungete un pizzico di peperocino e mescolate.
2.      Unite I pomodori schiacciandoli con le mani (se preferite, potete abucciarli e passarli con il passaverdura) e lasciate cuocere 7-8 minutei, finche la salsa si sara’ un po; addensata.  Quindi aggiungete il pane, meta’ del brood vegetale, gli spicchi d’aglio e il basilica.  Mescolate bene in modo che il pane si rompa e si gonfi.  Versate il restante brodo (mettetelo tutto anche se vi sembra troppo) e livellate la superficie, che deve risultare uniforme e ricoperta dal liquid.
3.      Lasciate cuocere per un po’ senza mescolare.  Ora la papa al pomodoro deve fare I cosiddetti “sette veli”: quando in superficie si formarsi di un nuovo velo.  Repetuta l’operazione 7 volte, la papa e’ pronta (occorre circa mezz’ora).  A fine cotture aggiungete un filo di extravergine e portate in tavola.

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