Italian Valentino Palmisano, chef at the Palazzo Seneca, Norcia, the gastronomic capital of Umbria, says he is the creator of the “world’s best spaghetti tomato”.
The 24-room Palazzo Seneca hotel and its restaurant, the Michelin-starred Vespasia, of course makes its own pasta and has access to the best ingredients.
The extra-long spaghetti is made to a traditional recipe specially for Palmisano; the olive oil he uses costs 56 euros a litre; the dolce miele and ramati tomatoes are perfectly ripe and juicy.
The Palmisano pasta is thick, rough in texture and consequently more porous, allowing it to suck up even more of that tomatoey essence.
But don’t worry if you can’t find the ‘right’ tomatoes or don’t wish to use the same olive oil; the chef insists his recipe is simply a blueprint, which you can adapt using your own ingredients.
Good tomatoes from the garden or supermarket and your favourite olive oil are all acceptable substitutes.
Plated, the world’s best spaghetti tomato is pretty but plain: a tidy swirl of basil-flecked spaghetti topped with three or four quarters of scarlet tomatoes, and a light dusting of parmesan.
In the mouth, though, it can be intense, zingy, bursting with the essence of tomato.
The tomato topping was the least tomatoey part of the dish; the spaghetti itself, soaked in that sauce, was a revelation.
Palmisano had infused the strands with the essence of summer: rich, lush, sweet, a tiny bit tart.
Here’s how you make it:
Serves four as a starter
800 tomatoes (Ramati, if you can get them)
90g celery, chopped
40g shallot, chopped
60g carrot, chopped
Half a clove of garlic, chopped
15g of basil stems, chopped
For the pasta
360g Regina dei Sibillini (or the best quality dried spaghetti you can find )
20g extra virgin olive oil (Eccolo)
5g parmesan ‘Vacca Rossa’ 36 months
2g small basil leaves
160g cherry tomatoes (Dolce miele, if you can get them)
To make the tomato water, place all the ingredients in a mixer and blend until smooth.
Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and simmer until the temperature reaches 86°C (use a thermometer).
Line a strainer with kitchen paper and filter the tomato mixture through. This should take a couple of hours.
The liquid that filters through – your tomato water – should be transparent with a subtle pale yellow tinge.
Once your tomato water is ready, drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil into a pan and lightly fry the Dolce miele cherry tomatoes for less than a minute. Once softened a little, remove them from the heat and keep warm.
To make the pasta, cook the spaghetti in salted water for half the time recommended on the packet, then strain and place into another saucepan with some of the tomato water on a medium heat.
When all the water is absorbed by the pasta, add more, until all the tomato water is absorbed into the spaghetti.
Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and remove from heat.
Plate the spaghetti, place the pan-fried tomatoes on top and finish with a little finely chopped basil and a sprinkle of grated parmesan. – The Telegraph