A Slow and Simple Tonnarelli Alla Marinara

therapy on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldtotable/4069750756/”>Spaghetti alla Marinara
Typically when I make Spaghetti Alla Marinara, it usually involves roughly chopped tomatoes, garlic, random vegetables from the produce drawer, and a handful of Barilla pasta —all thrown together in two pots and ready to eat in 20 minutes.  When my friend Josh suggested that we make spaghetti for dinner, I had no idea I was in for an authentically lengthy Italian experience.

Spinosi Tonarelli pasta

Spinosi Tonarelli pasta
While picking up a bottle of wine from Di Palo’s in Little Italy, we asked Lou Di Palo for a pasta recommendation.  “This will be the best pasta you have ever tasted,” he assured us, presenting us with a burgundy box of perfectly coiled dried pasta.  “You can even eat it plain, it’s that good.”  Tonnarelli is similar to Spaghetti, except it has a square cross section rather than a circular one.  Convinced by his testimonial, we headed back to my place to make a simple Marinara sauce to accompany the pasta.

Cut an
For a perfect, slow simmering Marinara sauce, you’ve got to peel off the tomato skin.  The first step is to cut an “x” on the bottom of each tomato, then blanch them quickly for 5 minutes.

peeling tomatoes
Once blanched, they’ll be easy to peel.  Don’t forget to also cut off the little tomato nub on the top where it once connected to the vine.

Mince a healthy amount of garlic (I like my sauce nice and garlicky); 4 or 5 cloves is a fair amount.  Roughly chop up the tomatoes.

Josh peeling tomatoes
Josh very slowly and gingerly peeled 5 Roma tomatoes. Meanwhile, I feverishly minced the garlic.  “Um Josh.. can we do this a little quicker? I’m getting hungry!” I quipped impatiently.  “Veronica, if we make this quickly it won’t taste good.  You have to put love and care into the sauce,” Josh replied, gesturing with a half-peeled tomato in his hand.

reducing the marinara sauce
After the peeling, chopping, and mincing is done, heat up a pan on medium high heat, add 3 Tbsps of olive oil, the finely chopped garlic, followed by the roughly chopped up tomatoes.

Stir it up!

reducing the marinara sauce some more
Let the sauce reduce for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. By this point in the night, it was close to 9 pm and I was so ravenous that I began to gnaw on a few of the figs I had sitting on my counter to subdue my hunger.

fully reduced!
We let the sauce reduce for 20 minutes, watching the tomatoes melt and liquefy into a chunky, viscous consistency.  The sauce reduced a lot, sinking an inch down from where it originally was in the pan, so if you like your pasta saucy, use more a few more tomatoes.

Tear up a handful of basil leaves and throw them into the sauce and stir some more. Adding the basil in last keeps the fresh basil flavor.

While the sauce is close to being fully reduced, boil a pot of salted water, add the Tonnarelli for about four and a half minutes for a perfect al dente.

Stir in the pasta into the sauce and add salt to taste.

Spaghetti alla Marinara

Spaghetti alla Marinara
FINALLY, the pasta was complete!  Just as I was at the brink of collapse, we filled our plates, crawled up the stairs to the roof and filled our howling stomachs with pasta.  Lou was right, it was some of the best pasta I’ve tasted — a perfectly buoyant texture with a rich egg flavor, and of course it was further enhanced with the lovingly made Marinara sauce.  And I have to admit, this was all totally worth the wait.

Di Palo’s Fine Foods
200 Grand St
(between Mott St & Mulberry St)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 226-1033

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3 Responses to A Slow and Simple Tonnarelli Alla Marinara

  1. Jessica says:

    Ooh, I’ve never had Tonnarelli before! Wish I had known about Di Palo’s before I left.

  2. Gary says:

    Lou Di Palo is an amazing guy. There are people who would wait on line for more than an hour on busy days just to be served by him (his brother Sal is great too). When it is your turn, he will spend as much time with you as you need, whether it is 10 minutes or an hour (when I first met him, we spent more than 2 hours with him tasting olive oils, balsamic vinegars and cheeses).

    He will offer tastes of whatever you are thinking of buying. His knowledge of all the products is immense and he has a way of sharing that knowledge without sounding arrogant or know-it-all.

    Try not to go to Di Palo on weekends when it is a mob scene. The regulars don’t mind the long waits but first-timers and tourists often leave in frustration.

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