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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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December 01, 2008

Salsa Rosa for One

Salsa Rosa for One (taken from "Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant"

Original recipe:

3 T olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced (optional)
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 box Pomi diced tomatoes (he also says you can use a can)
2 T unsalted butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 box panna (this is an Italian heavy cream), about 6 ounces or a half pint of heavy cream
1/3 pound dry pasta (spaghettini, cappelini, or any loong thin noodle)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over medium heat.
Add garlic and cook, stirring until it just turns brown
Add zucchini (if using) and cook, stirring, until it has a yellowish sheen
Add fresh and boxed tomatoes
Lower heat "a bit" and cook until tomatoes start breaking down and forming a "sugo" (sauce)
Add the butter, cheese and cream, in 3 or 4 doses - stirring in and melting down between each dose.
Set the heat to low and cover.
Boil water for pasta and cook al dente.
Strain pasta, put it back in the pan with a swirl of olive oil.
Add salt and pepper, and pour salsa rosa over pasta.
Mix to get pasta well covered.

Okay, number 1 - I think the quantities for the sauce would be way more than enough for one serving.  Of course, I don't use a third of a pound of pasta either, but even with that, I think this would make a large quantity of sauce.  So, right off the bat, I decided to make half the recipe.

Number 2 - I couldn't, of course, find panna and should have just bought heavy cream.  But while looking, I saw that our grocery store actually had creme fraiche in the cabinet and was so excited I decided to convince myself that this would probably be a good substitute (cause he kept talking about how thick panna is - "you have to squeeze it out of the box").  So after tasting the creme fraiche (which was very thick) and finding that it tasted like really good sour cream I decided that wasn't going to work and the only other thing I had to use was some evaporated milk.

So, with those two things out of the way, I followed the recipe (using the zucchini).  I don't know how long you would have to cook the tomatoes for them to "break down" but after it was looking fairly reduced, I started adding the milk and cheese (I didn't put any butter in cause that sort of seemed like overkill).  It began to get a nice rosy color and I began to think "hmmm, that's the color of the sauces we had in Rome". 

I cooked the pasta, didn't add any extra olive oil to it, ladled most of the sauce over it (my 2 ounces and not quite the full half recipe of sauce) and ate it.  And it was good.

What I will do next time:

I'll get the heavy cream.  I think instead of the Pomi chopped tomatoes, I'll buy a box of Pomi strained tomatoes which I think is probably basically tomato sauce and eventually, after trying these Pomi type attempts, I may very well switch to a less expensive American tomato product.

I think using the strained tomatoes and the heavy cream will get me very close to the Roman sauce I enjoyed so much on our trip.  Well, it didn't have zucchini in it, but I like zucchini and if I have one in the house will probably use it again.

Oh, and I didn't use enough salt, at least for my taste.  I just sprinkled some into the sauce and put the normal amount of salt in the pasta water.  I think I would probably put a teaspoon of salt in the sauce next time.  Maybe start with 1/2 teaspoon and taste...

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