Longer Reads

Del Re’s Secret Sauce

While savoring my lazy Sunday this weekend, I heard the chime and clank of a loud bell coming down my residential Brooklyn street. Intrigued, I peered out my window and was delighted to see that the ringing was coming from an old, red truck offering door-to-door knife sharpening. My blades were purchased back in 2005, and haven’t been professionally sharpened since. Every cook knows the pleasure of using a sharp knife — and the hell of trying to chop a tomato (or a large amount of onions) with a dull blade. I ran out of my house, weilding three giant knives in my hand, and brought them to Del Re’s truck. $35, some chit chat, and a couple of minutes later, my knives were as sharp — or sharper! — as they were fresh out of the store.

Del Re himself appeared a bit gruff at first, but after a little chatting, he eventually opened up enough to share his “secret sauce” recipe with me. After telling him what I planned to make for dinner that night (roast basil chicken, a big green salad), he suggested I start off with an appetizer of his famous cherry tomato, garlic, and basil spaghetti. While I never got around to making it that night (a spaghetti “appetizer” just seemed a bit to much for me), I plan to make this recipe this week. In the meantime, I wanted to share Del Re’s recipe with you. Easy, healthy, and perfect to get you in the mood for summer (a mere 2 weeks away!), I couldn’t keep it all to myself. Enjoy, and let me know how it turns out for you! I’ll have to report back to Del Re next time he comes rolling down my block…

Del Re’s Cherry Tomato, Garlic, and Basil Pasta

(As told to Andrea by Del Re)

Put a big pot of water to boil over high heat (for the spaghetti). Add at least a tablespoon of salt to the water.

In the meantime, slice 3 large cloves of garlic about 1/8 of an inch thick — pretty thick, not too thin.

Take about 1/2 of a pint of cherry or grape tomatoes and slice them in half.

Pour enough olive oil into a large skillet so that it just coats the bottom. Add the garlic and the cherry tomatoes — you want to add them into the pan with the oil cold! That’s the secret to having sweet, not-bitter garlic. You don’t saute it first!

When that’s all in the pan, add 1 or 2 generous pinches of salt and turn the heat to high and start stirring. When the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat down to medium-high. Keep stirring constantly.

When the pasta water boils, put about 1/3 of a box of spaghetti into the water and stir it up good. When the pasta is almost ready – al dente! – take 1 or 2 ladle-fuls of the cooking water and add it to the cherry tomato/garlic skillet mixture. Stir it up. When the pasta is ready, take it out of the pot with tongs and add it to the skillet. Toss it all together. Then, take 7-8 large basil leaves and tear them into strips — DON’T CUT THEM WITH A KNIFE! — tear them by hand. Top the pasta and sauce with the basil strips and a sprinkling of parmigiano cheese.

Andrea’s Notes:

1) Although Del Re didn’t specify, I recommend going with whole wheat or multi-grain pasta to make this dish even healthier.

2) According to Del Re, this makes an appetizer-size portion. You may want to make more of it if it’s the only thing you’re serving for dinner.