Christinia’s first cooking class

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.

Pappa al pomodoro ingredients. Decidedly not sushi.

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?

BRB, there’s more in the fridge right now.

Here’s what I did on my most recent venture:

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

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