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Five-minute Tomato Sauce
(Neapolitan Fillet of Tomato Sauce)

Makes 1 cup, enough for 6 ounces of pasta serving 2
 
 

In the United States, the expression "filetto di pomodoro" has come to mean, through its use in stylish, supposedly "northern Italian" restaurants, a quickly cooked fresh tomato sauce. It should mean exactly what it says, a sauce made with discernible strips of tomato pulp, cooked so quickly they don't turn to sauce. And it is certainly a southern Italian notion, not "northern.". One doesn't hear or see the expression "filetto di pomodoro" used much these days in Campania, although most people know what it is, and at the height of summer one is likely to eat it. Instead, it might be called sciuè sciuè, sauce in a hurry, or just tomato sauce, sugo di pomodoro. I've also been told that filetto di pomodoro is a bit old-fashioned, that the vine-type cherry tomatoes, which are much easier to handle and even more delicious (certainly sweeter) to many, are being used where tomato fillets used to be.

    By the way, good canned tomatoes can taste almost fresh when cooked as these are, in only five minutes in a wide pan that promotes evaporation. Keep that in mind some January when you see "fresh" filetto di pomodoro on the menu of a "northern Italian" restaurant.

1 1/2 to 2   cups well-drained, seeded, canned peeled plum tomatoes, sliced lengthwise, into 1/4 - inch strip
     
2 to 3   tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
     
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1   rounded tablespoon finely cut basil or parsley
     
1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon salt (depending on saltiness of tomatoes, canned needing less than fresh)
     
    Pinch hot red pepper flakes
    1. In a 7 to 9-inch skillet, combine all the ingredients and place them over medium-high heat. Simmer briskly for about 5 minutes for canned tomatoes, about 8 minutes for fresh, stirring a few times. The tomatoes should remain in pieces and there should be no liquid in the pan, only reddish oil separating from the tomatoes.
 
 
 
- From Naples At Table: Cooking In Campania; More Than 250 Recipes From Avellino, Benevento, Caserta, Salerno, The Amalfi Coast, Capri And Ischia. New York: HarperCollins, 1998. 436p. -
 
 
 
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