Here is my riff on a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook, “Simple” that I’m calling Casarecce Pasta with Campari Tomato Sauce and Fresh Sage. With gentle simmering and a bit of water to facilitate cooking, campari or cherry tomatoes are transformed into a bold pasta sauce. To ratchet up the flavor, herbs, red pepper flakes and pecorino Romano are added.
Casarecce, a classic pasta shape from Sicily (shown above), are short pasta noodles with curled edges and a groove down the middle; they look a bit like little rolled up scrolls. It is also known as ‘casareccia’ in certain areas of Italy. Its shape catches and holds sauce very well, but other short pastas such as bucatini, penne and ziti could work too.
The end result was an extremely robust and flavorful sauce that we couldn’t get enough of. And while I’ll often cut back the amount of pasta by 50%, I used the entire 12 ounces and it made for the perfect ratio to the other ingredients.
You know, normally I don’t think of sage as being the go-to herb in Italian red sauces—for me it’s usually basil and/or oregano. But I have to say, we had some beautiful sage in our herb garden that was screaming to be picked and used, and it was a wonderful compliment to the garlic and tomatoes.
Casarecce Pasta with Campari Tomato Sauce and Fresh Sage
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
- 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 lb. campari tomatoes, quartered (or halved cherry tomatoes)
- ½ tsp. white sugar
- Kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage, divided
- 12 oz. casarecce pasta
- ¾ tsp. smoked paprika
- Shaved pecorino romano, to serve
- In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic, pepper flakes and bay, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the tomatoes, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break down, about 4 minutes.
- Reduce to medium-low and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a steady simmer, until the tomatoes have fully broken down and the sauce is thick enough that a spatula drawn through it leaves a trail, 45 to 55 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and remove and discard the bay. Stir in 1 tablespoon of sage and the smoked paprika, then cover to keep warm.
- When the sauce is almost ready, in a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and the pasta, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.
- Drain the pasta, then return to the pot. Add the sauce and toss until well combined. Transfer to a serving bowl.
- Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sage and shaved pecorino, then drizzle with additional oil.