One thing that has become a staple of vacationing with my mom’s side of the family is taking a cooking class. Though I was not there, I will not soon forget the pictures my mom sent of my Polish maternal grandma learning to make sushi.
We’re nothing if not adventurous.
As I’m about to embark on a girls trip with my mom and aunt to a new foreign land, including a cooking class of course, I’m reminded again of the first time our family’s first time taking a class. The poor souls who had to wrangle about 10 of our clan did not have an easy task, especially as the wine flowed freely.
But 12 years later, I still make the recipes that we learned that day, and I still remember the wines that we tasted. Thankfully for the purposes of this blog, the recipe I make most often, pappa al pomodoro, (and was also one of the first dishes I shared with my sweetheart whom I’ll be missing dearly), can be made in a Dutch oven.
I haven’t made many changes over the years. Why mess with this Italian classic?
Here’s what I did on my most recent venture:
- 4 ½ lbs. tomatoes
- 2 leeks, sliced
- 1 garlic bulb, about 20 cloves, peeled minced
- 1-2 packages fresh basil, chopped
- Red chili flakes, to taste (about 2 pinches is what I use)
- 1 loaf bread, preferably stale
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Peel the tomatoes — my method is to cut a cross in the bottom and put them in boiling water for a minute or less before transferring them to an ice bath. (I didn’t say it was easy, just a way to use tomatoes!) Then, chop roughly and use a food processor or blender to puree the tomatoes.
Separately, in a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat and then add the leeks and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook for about another 1 minute.
Add the tomato puree to the Dutch oven, and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for about an hour. Add the chopped basil and salt and pepper to taste.
Continue to cook for about another half-hour. When the tomatoes are cooked, chop or tear off pieces of bread and place in the soup until it is thickened to taste. (I used about ⅔ of a small French loaf.)
Ladle the soup into bowls and top with additional olive oil and salt and pepper, if desired, and enjoy!
Programming note: I will be traveling, mostly out of the country, for the next few Fridays, BUT I will still be keeping my blogs updated as I worked in advance to ensure I kept up with posting weekly. However, if any technical difficulties or best laid plans do not work out and I go without posting, please be understanding and know that I’ll fix anything when I return.