As most of you know, I live to travel and love to eat great food and that is one of the main reasons I started Delectable Destinations almost 10 years ago. I can hardly believe that it has been over 17 years ago that I first got my first taste of Italy and the “dolce vita”! Italy is truly a treat for all of your senses, visually magnificent and a delight for your taste buds.
Over the years, I have visited Mamma Agata’s Cooking School of the Amalfi Coast countless times with my guests and I can honestly say it is the highlight of the week for everyone. It happens every time…Mamma Agata, Chiara, and Gennaro, vibrant and welcoming hosts, standing in front of us, saluting our guests with a glass of wine, while motioning us to begin tasting, savoring, and eating. The food that has been lovingly prepped and prepared, just keeps on coming, and coming. Where else does a lunch last for hours?! With that delicious food, homemade wine, wonderful company & conversations and stunning vistas… there is nowhere else we would rather be. Gazing over Mamma Agata’s terrace that sits high on the cliffs of Ravello, overlooking the Mediterranean with lemon and olive orchards sprawling below you… almost too much beauty to take in for just one visit.
One of the favorite recipes of the day is Mamma’s Agata’s “Spaghetti del Contadino” or “Farmer’s Spaghetti”, and as a bonus… this recipe has a story. Mamma Agata began cooking at the very young age of 13 for a wealthy American woman, who entertained many illustrious personalties in the 1950’s and 1960’s. In 1962, Jacqueline Kennedy visited the Amalfi Coast with her son “John John” and stayed at the storied Villa Civita where Mamma Agata worked. Jacqueline loved the “Spaghetti of the Farmer” dish and truly loved all of Mamma Agata’s simple and genuine food. Mamma Agata has very fond memories of Jacqueline Kennedy and always says she was such an elegant and simple woman… a “real lady”.
I hope you enjoy this delicious pasta recipe. Easy and simple, perfect for a weekday when you are in a rush or inviting friends over and want to serve something really yummy!
RECIPE: Serves 4
1 pound of spaghetti
1 1/4 lbs of ripe cherry tomatoes
1 TBSP fresh parsley, finely chopped
6 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
2 dozen green olives (with or without pits)
2 dozen black olives (with or without pits)
1 TBSP Capers (packed in salt, if available, and rinsed)
1 cup fresh arugula
1. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half (if large, cut into quarters) and place them in a bowl with the chopped parsley.
Note:Mamma Agata’s Secret: The riper the tomatoes, the sweeter and more delicious they are in this recipe.
2. Thinly slice the garlic and add it to the room temperature extra virgin olive oil.
Note:Mamma Agata’s Secret: Add the garlic to room temperature oil and gently heat them both at the same time because if you heat the olive oil before you add the garlic, the oil will be too hot and it will burn the garlic, making it bitter.
3. Slowly heat the garlic and oil over a very low temperature so that the flavor of the garlic will infuse the oil as it is cooking.
4. When the oil and garlic are warm and have been gently cooked, add the halved cherry tomatoes, parsley, oregano, green and black olives, and rinsed capers to the pan.
5. Cook until tomatoes have cooked down, and all the flavors have blended. About 10 – 15 minutes, keep checking and stirring.
6. Boil the spaghetti until it is al dente. Drain it, and put it in the pan with the sauce. Cook, while turning, for an additional 2 minutes. This is why it must be taken out of the water al dente.
7. Add the arugula leaves to the pasta and sauce just prior to serving so that it does not lose its flavor in the cooking process.
8. Serve hot, with a drizzle of olive oil to further enhance the flavors of this dish.
Carol Ketelson is the owner and operator of Delectable Destinations LLC. Dedicated to designing and co-ordinating customized small group tours to hand-picked destinations. Each trip is arranged by experienced travel planner, and European culture and culinary arts specialist, Carol Ketelson. Bespoke luxury travel, personally escorted, and intimate first-hand experiences, ensure memorable and inspirational journeys. The tours are ideal for anyone with a passion for travel – discovering local flavors, culturally rich traditions and mesmerizing sights. For over 10 years, Carol’s tours have captured the true essence of some of the most beautiful regions of the world, including the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, Sicily, Puglia, Spain, Ireland and India. Our business defines the key to experiential travel, while creating memories to last a lifetime.