by David George
It was in eighth grade math class that I met Thomas Romano. We sat next to each other and much to the dismay of our teacher Mr. Hathaway we found common ground in music. Tom would eventually invite me to his house for dinner. "Thursday night is best; my mom makes spaghetti on that night." I arrived at Tom's house in the afternoon and everything seemed relaxed and quiet. Mr. Romano was watching sports on the couch and something smelled really good. There was a pot of sauce cooking slowly in the kitchen and sausages cooking in the oven. Tom and I went into his room through the kitchen and I was getting hungry already. After we listened to all of the progressive rock greats of the '70s we went back through the kitchen and I met Tom's mom who was busy spinning dinner and instructing Tom's sister, Patty, to pull the sausages out of the oven before they burned. The house had a more chaotic feel to it as Tom's big brother, Vince, arrived. He and Patty would begin fighting immediately. I was a bit intimidated by the shouting at first but Tom's mom would cool thing down just in time to gather everybody together to help put things on the table. Finally everyone was at the table except Thomas Sr. who would have to be pulled off the couch to sit at the head of the table. I was amazed at the whole production of the meal. Being an orphan of a small family I had never seen dinner put together with a huge bowl of spaghetti with sausages, meatballs, bread, wine, soda, Kool-Aid, milk.
Everything for everyone. I would have seconds and maybe even thirds. Tom's mom was my first influence in Italian cooking. I would go on to work at Original Joe's and a couple of other Italian restaurants in the Bay area and I married a Bartoldo so the influence must have been strong. I guess the part I did not get, is that I seem to do all the cooking in the kitchen.
Here are a couple of easy family-style pastas for you to try at home.
ROASTED TOMATO AND OLIVE PASTA
5 roma tomatoes cut into quarters with seeds removed
6 cloves of garlic cut in half lengthwise
8 Kalamata olives pitted and cut in half
1 yellow onion diced into quarter-inch pieces
1Ú2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1Ú2 cup cut fresh basil leaves
1 T. oregano
Fresh parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooked pasta of choice
In a glass roasting pan, combine tomatoes, garlic, olives, onions, oregano, olive oil and light salt and pepper. Place in oven at 350 degrees for about one hour, or until the tomatoes begin to look roasted. Remove from oven and toss with basil and desired amount of pasta. I find spaghetti works best with this sauce. More olive oil is OK, too. Just top with parmesan and soak up the delicious tomato oil with a good, crusty sourdough bread.
CLAM LINGUINI (VONGOLE)
2 small cans of chopped clams
3 cloves of garlic minced
1Ú2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
1Ú2 cup of sliced mushrooms
1Ú2 cup white wine
Juice from one can of clams
1Ú2 stick of butter
1Ú4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons flour
2 T. fresh Italian parsley chopped
Fresh grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Cooked linguini for four
Salt and pepper to taste
Open cans of clams; strain and rinse. Reserve juice from one of the cans. Heat a medium-size stainless-steel or non-stick skillet to medium heat. Add chopped garlic and chili pepper flakes and stir quickly with a spoon until medium brown. Add mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes. Add wine and lemon juice and cook for 2 more minutes on high heat. Add butter, flour, clams and clam juice, and cook until it thickens. Pour over four portions of cooked linguini. Top with parsley and serve. Serves 4.
David George of Carson City is the sous chef at Adele's.