Enjoy Summer with Tomatoes
Ciao a tutti!
It’s the full swing of late summer, which in today’s world means the poor children are already back in school. Maybe they are used to going back in August, but to us it just seems too early! Tomatoes, zucchini and peppers of all kinds are bursting at farmer's market right now as well as our grocery stores. This month we'll focus on tomatoes and share a recipe that is delizioso for your late summer table. This was the most amazing dish we enjoyed in Tuscany this summer!

Keeping with our summer theme, we want to concentrate our wine focus on the wines of Puglia, not least because we’re headed there next month and can’t wait! The wines of Puglia are perfect with the tomato pasta.

Buon appetito!
Gina and Mary

Heading Back to Italia
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Facebook - EccoLaCucina - Culinary Tours or Instagram. This fall we'll be leading groups in Puglia, Tuscany and Bologna. Gina will also be posting on At The Italian Table facebook page!
Salice Salentino & Negroamaro
Grapes have been grown in Puglia since the 6 th century BC and the wines made there are an important part of the history and life of the region. The heat of the summers in Puglia concentrate the sugars in grapes and the wines tend to be sweeter and higher alcohol because of it; hence, great care must be made in making the wines to achieve a balance. One of Puglia’s most important indigenous grapes is negroamaro, meaning “dark bitter”, and with care and attention, excellent wines are produced from negroamaro in southern Puglia.
The DOC wines of Salice Salentino are wines made with at least 75% of the indigenous grape negroamaro and blended with native aleatico . The geographic region is located around the small town of Salice in southern Puglia and at its inception in 1976 the DOC was only for red wines. The DOC currently includes also rose ’ from negroamaro as well as white wines from c hardonnay, fiano and pinot bianco.

There are several Salice Salentino DOC wines found in the US and recently we came across one by producer Cantele, Salice Salentino Riserva DOC 2015. At just $12 a bottle it’s a steal and an excellent wine to drink with tomato based summer pasta sauces or eggplant parmigiana!
Summer Tomatoes
There is nothing like a home-grown tomato, red and ripe, sliced and sprinkled with salt and olive oil, a little basil and some good bread to sop up the juices.  Maybe add a ball of mozzarella or burrata. Tomatoes are easy to grow, if you can protect them from marauding rodents and birds, but if you don’t grow your own, great tomatoes are just down the road at your local farmers market. 

The tomato is a member of the nightshade family, which also includes peppers, eggplants and potatoes, as well as tobacco, belladonna and mandrake.  Originating in Central and South America, where it is a perennial, the Spanish are credited with distributing it around the world: to Asia through the Philippines and to Europe through Spain and Spanish colonies in southern Italy. The tomato is so closely linked with Italian cuisine that many people are surprised to learn that it has only been used in Naples and the Italian south since the mid-17 th Century, and in central and northern Italy since the late 18 th or early 19 th Century. In Campania, where tomatoes proliferate, the tomato was first mentioned in a cookbook of Spanish-influenced recipes printed in Naples in 1692. Click here to read Gina's blog.
The most amazing thing we ate in Tuscany this July!
On our recent trip to Tuscany for the July Palio, we were treated to a simple pasta course of spaghetti with a fresh tomato sauce that blew our socks off!  It was classic Italian cooking - simple and amazing! Italian cooking is not complicated - it is simple with the freshest, best ingredients and this recipe showcases the Italian kitchen at its best. Fresh cherry tomatoes were simmered with onion, garlic and olive oil, until they broke down into a sweet, oily goodness, then tossed with spaghetti and fresh basil. We’ve recreated the sauce since coming back and here's the recipe to enjoy now with the best tomatoes of the summer:

Fresh Tomato and Basil
3-4 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
(Use a fresh tomato that gets sweeter when it is heated, see blog for more info)
half onion, chopped small
3 cloves of garlic, peeled, cut in half
flat leaf parsley, chopped 1 T.
2 T chopped fresh basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Parmigiano cheese
Gently saute the onion, garlic and parsley in a good amount of olive oil until soft, being careful not to brown the garlic. Add chopped tomatoes and salt to taste. Cook for 45 minutes - or longer as the tomatoes will break down (see picture below). Toss with cooked pasta and the torn basil. Top with freshly grated parmigiano before serving.
 This Month's Italian saying... 
Chi mangia bene, vive bene.

Translation: Who eats well, lives well.
Its meaning is: Eat well, healthy good food, and you will be healthy and happy.
Travel with us in 2020
Join us on one of our food and wine adventures in Italy next year! We have good availability for the Tuscany tours in the spring and in October for the olive harvest. There are a few spots available for Piedmont and Puglia too. Contact Mary to get more information and get registered! Click here for the dates on our website.
Gina Stipo and Mary Stipo Potter | Ecco La Cucina | 1-972-342-8308| Email | Website