Monday, October 11, 2010

Tomatoes and the art of doing nothing.

After such a long silence here, I am not sure how to preface my return, or whether to slink back in, whistling nonchalantly, as if I never left. I am going to beg indulgence, and go with the latter. It has been an insane couple of months and I do not know how to sum up eloquently what I have been doing since I last wrote here about sea salt ice-cream and shedding opaque tights. Ironically, this week seems an opportune time to re-don them. 

I am writing this on a terrace in Varenna, on Lake Como. It is exceedingly beautiful, Tolkien-esque in its sheer valleys and mist covered waters and I imagine, for those minded toward such things, very relaxing. There is a persistent chill in the air and I am watching ferries stream back and forth across the treacle surface of the water. Two days ago, sitting in this very spot, head buzzing with thoughts of overdue space law papers, outstanding conditions subsequent on aircraft sales and missing tasting notes from the drink menu at Mulligans, I read the Spanish word ‘reposar’ for the first time. It was written in a Spanish cookbook and it means ‘to rest’. It is such a pleasant feeling word to say: rep-o—sarrrrr, almost onomatopoeic in nature. It refers to the resting that grains of rice in paella must do once cooked, relax a little after the intense and steady heat, to allow them to absorb the flavours of the paella, carry the dish forward. Reposar. A lesson I could do with learning. I seem to lack the talent for what the Italians refer to as bel far niante, the art of doing nothing.

The last number of days have seen steady improvement in my practice of bel far niante and I can now proudly boast: a collection of sea-glass; 22 extra freckles on my left shoulder; having eaten laverello (lake fish) to near extinction; a revived appreciation for bruschetta, especially when eaten lake side while sluicing tomato juice from my chin; a scraped knee born of over-exuberant walking after too much local vini rossi; having read two cookbooks followed by two novels; and perhaps most boast-worthy of all, a new recipe for simple gnocchi al pomodoro below.

I am returning to Dublin tomorrow, with a plan to be a more consistent blogger, to stop neglecting this site when all else is frantic and a head full of autumn recipes and stories.

But for now there are tomatoes to eat.

Gnocchi al pomodoro

Serves two.

Olive oil
Two cloves of garlic, minced
One can of whole roma tomatoes in juice
Two sprigs of rosemary
Two sprigs of oregano
Three sage leaves
200mL red wine (preferably left over from the night before)
Salt to taste

Gnocchi (either store bought or fresh)

Cheese to serve

Glug a decent amount of olive oil into the bottom of a pot, about a table spoon.
Add garlic and cook over medium heat until translucent.
Add tomotoes straight from the can, being careful of the splashback.
Break tomatoes up slightly with a wooden spoon and add the wine, a pinch of salt and the herbs.
Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until thick and salsa-like in consistency.
Add salt to taste.
Meanwhile boil the gnocchi in salted water until they rise to the top of the pot and drain.
Add to the sauce and stir through.

Serve in warmed bowls, sprinkled with cheese (Mr 9 Bean Row cuts tiny chunks of parmesan rather than grating which is perfect!) and liberally poured wine.


Bionic Laura said...

Welcome back to blogging. A lovely post and sounds like your holiday was just the tonic you needed.

I must try the gnocchi, sounds perfect for a relaxing evening when you need an easy meal.

Kate Bielinski said...

It all sounds wonderful. Beautifully written and the recipe looks divine. I feel rested just reading your description of the scenery. Welcome back 'Neen.

Aoife Mc said...

Sounds gorgeous - lovely to have you back!

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