Farmers Spaghetti (Spaghetti della Contadina)

November 29, 2010 9:27:26 AM PST
In 1962, Jacqueline Kennedy came to the Amalfi Coast with "John John" and stayed for a few days in the Villa Civita, where Mamma Agata cooked. Mamma Agata always said that Jacqueline was such an elegant and simple woman. She loved Mamma Agata's Spaghetti of the Farmer, and she loved Mamma's simple and genuine food. Often, Mrs. Kennedy joined Mamma in the kitchen for a cup of coffee and, after drinking it, she would wash the cup and place it back in the cupboard. Mamma Agata would always say "Jacqueline Kennedy was a real lady!"

Serves 4

  • 14 oz pasta (spaghetti)
  • 1 1/4 lb ripe cherry tomatoes (the riper the better!)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • 6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic (finely sliced)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 dozen (i.e. 24) green olives (with or without pits)
  • 2 dozen (i.e. 24) black olives (with or without pits)
  • 1 Tablespoon capers (packed in salt, if available, and rinsed)
  • 1 cup fresh arugula leaves
  • Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place them in a bowl with the chopped parsley. NOTE: If the cherry tomatoes are very large, you'll need to cut them into quarters.

    Mamma Agata's Secret

    The riper the cherry tomatoes, the sweeter and more delicious they are in this recipe!

    Parsley is added to the tomatoes before heating them in oil to enhance the flavor of the tomatoes. As the parsley sautés in the hot oil, it will lose some of its flavor. NOTE: If the parsley burns, it becomes toxic.

    Thinly slice the garlic and add it to the room-temperature extra virgin olive oil. Slowly heat the garlic and oil over a very low temperature so that the flavor of the garlic will pass into the oil as it cooks the garlic.

    Mamma Agata's Secret

    Add the garlic to room-temperature oil and gently heat them both at the same time because if you heat the olive oil before you add the garlic, the oil will be too hot and it will burn the garlic, making it bitter.

    When the oil and garlic are warmed and gently cooked, add the halved cherry tomatoes and parsley, oregano, green olives, black olives and rinsed salted capers to the pan. Cook for an additional five minutes.

    Mamma Agata's Secret

    Use capers preserved in salt, as their flavor is much stronger. If you can find them, be sure to rinse them in water before adding them to the sauce to avoid creating a sauce that is too salty; salted capers naturally will retain some of the salt and properly salt the dish. If you use capers in brine, you may need to add salt to this dish to balance the flavors.

    Boil the pasta until it is al dente. Drain the spaghetti and add to the pan with the sauce. Cook for an additional two minutes.

    Add the arugula leaves to the pasta and sauce just prior to serving so that it does not lose its flavor in the cooking process.

    Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil to further enhance the flavors in the dish and enjoy!


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