I went with Kristin to Winterfeldplatz market with an idea in my head to make arrabiata or puttanesca from scratch this weekend. All I needed was olives. I intended to pick up a can of tomatoes at the convenience store next to my apartment if it turned out I was out.
I saw then, at the fresh pasta stand, premium canned tomatoes in very handsome cans. I considered them and then rhetorically and dismissively said, “How much better can those expensive canned tomatoes really be?”
“Very?” offered Kristin.
“Thanks for talking me out of it,” I said facetiously. I bought the tomatoes.
On a roll, I also bought canned yellow tomatoes, a tin of sardines, a jar of tomato sauce with tuna, and the desired olives. I’m so predictable.
Curious about the yellow tomatoes, something I have never seen canned, I decided to use them in my puttanesca sauce. I started some water for pasta, then sautéed on low heat:
- olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan
- 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- red pepper flakes
- black olives
Whenever I slice my garlic thinly, I think of that scene in Goodfellas where they are making dinner in prison, and throughout the scene, one character patiently slices the garlic paper thin with a razor blade. I remember when I saw that that I thought of how much better one’s food would be if one had all the time in the world just to slice garlic.
As everything started smelling awesome but before the garlic started to brown, I added the tomatoes and cranked up the heat. By then it was time to add the pasta to the water and by the time it was ready, the sauce had simmered away the excessive juice.
I can’t be sure until I eat the red tomatoes of the same brand, but I found the yellow tomatoes to be sweeter and subtler in flavour. You would expect the other strong flavours to overwhelm them; maybe I had the wrong proportions. The dish got much tastier at the end when all the olives and capers and pepper flakes that had escaped my fork earlier were scooped up with the last swirls of spaghetti. Next time, I’ll add more of those things in relation to the tomatoes.