Not sure if I’m alone on this, but the theory of the so called baby schema for me seems to also apply to smaller vegetables and fruits. May it be baby mangold, baby pineapple, baby Thai asparagus, baby chanterelles and what have you – it’s per definition inevitable to not fall for those little cuties. Perhaps it is another marketing trick or the rediscovery of on ancient sort, I don’t care, my taste buds will make the call whether or not its taste is on par with the cuteness factor.
Grape, Cherry, Ceylon, Florida Petite, Plum…and so on. The spectrum of different tomatoes blows your mind and our local farmers market is certainly of not much help in making a quick decision as not only locally grown tomatoes are being offered (depending on seasons), but from all over the world. Our latest tomato-esque discovery is a real keeper and goes by the name Datterinios, so we were told. Obviously we googled right after we got back, but couldn’t find a single entry on these. Checking and double checking the spelling, the stall owner we got them at eventually told us – on our next visit – that they just made up the name – how funny, haha. “As proof”, he showed us the boxes in which they have been shipped from Italy, simply labeled pomodori ciliegino. So besides the naming confusion, we found a little gem! They are smaller as grapes or cherries (the fruits) and even sweeter than cocktail tomatoes and kind of mess with your head taste-wise: I couldn’t positively say I was eating something savory more vegetable like or something sweet, more fruit like. Wow. These would be a perfect choice for a sweet tomato jam! Note to self.
Albeit their real size, the picture above gives the impression of regular sized cherry/cocktail tomatoes, the picture to the left shows their actual size, 1:1. Yes, *cough* I sat there with the computer mouse to the right and the tomato and a dime to the left, resizing the image until monitor and the real-life THINGY in my hand finally where in line. (I know, I know, the geek in me made me too, I swear! PS: It obviously is dependent on your screen resolution and monitor size, so the full size really only is a full size at 1280×1024 and a 19” display :)
So what to do with these little taste wonders? Well, some of them were served on white porcelain spoons as an amuse bouche for friends, halved and sprinkled with coarse sea salt. So simple, yet so tasty.
Others were drafted for another panna cotta experiment (goat cheese and basil), which was promising, but still needs some refinement, not quite ready “to ship” just yet…
The majority however found their destiny in a quick pasta dish. While I don’t have lunch regularly, not that I don’t want to, I’m just prone to forgetting about it over work and once it’s 3pm, I prefer to grab an apple and start thinking about dinner. I really treasure self cooked dinners even throughout the week, and with the little time left on typical weekday evenings it doesn’t have to be the full nine yards, a simple yet tasty dish prepared in less than 20 minutes is all it takes. Making a brief detour and shopping for what I’m in the mood for on my way home from work is key, I’m not necessarily good in planning ahead. This pasta is an easy one, not requiring too many ingredients: coppa (or bacon), stale (in the sense of 2-3 days old) bread, parmesan, pasta and fresh herbs are always in stock in our pantry. Plus the Datterinios, of course. And the result was fantastic, as the tomatoes are unbelievably full of flavor!
Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil, then add salt. Cook pasta according to package directions.
Fry the chopped pancetta/coppa/bacon in a frying pan (no additional butter/fat needed!) until crisp and lightly browned, drain on a paper towel and set aside. No need to clean the pan just yet, you will need it soon again.
Heat 4 tbsp of olive oil in a separate, larger frying pan, add the chopped shallot and garlic and sauté until translucent. Add the tomato paste and be careful to not let the shallots gain color. Then add the halved cherry tomatoes and season to taste with coarse sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, a pinch of ground dried chiles or cheyenne pepper and let simmer for a few minutes.
Meanwhile heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in the earlier used “bacon pan”. Lightly fry small chunks of stale bread until golden brown. Set aside.
Add 4 to 6 tbsp of the “pasta water” to the simmering tomatoes and mash some or all of the now soft tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
Just before serving: Pour the sauce over the drained pasta, add the fresh herbs, the fried bacon bits and mix everything well. Divide among the plates, sprinkle with the fried bread chunks, grate some parmesan over it and – if you like – add some additional freshly ground black pepper and good olive oil!
Spaghetti with crushed cherry tomatoes/Datterinios
Recipe source: own creation
Prep time & cooking: 15-20 min.
Ingredients (serves 2):
5 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, chooped
1 tbsp tomato paste
250g cherry tomatoes (or "Datterinios"), halved
coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
5 slices of pancetta/coppa/bacon, chopped
1-2 handful stale bread, torn into tiny chunks
fresh basil and oregano to taste
fresh grated parmesan to taste