(= Pasta Bake with Salsa Etrusca)
Recommended wine: Vernaccia di San Gimignano D.O.C.G.
First prepare the Salsa Etrusca: put the olives, sun-dried tomatoes (well drained of their oil), parsley, clove of garlic, grated aged pecorino and olive oil into a food processor; blend until you obtain a sauce. Pour the sauce into a large bowl (it must be able to contain the pasta too), add the ricotta, freshly squeezed tomato juice and fresh pecorino, cut into small cubes, and mix everything together. If you want to add a spicy touch, add the olive oil with chilli pepper. Season with salt, if necessary, and put the mixture to one side.
Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water, strain when very “al dente”, tip it into the bowl and mix with the sauce. Sprinkle the bottom of an oven dish with a handful of grated aged pecorino cheese, tip in the pasta, spread it out well and sprinkle the remaining grated pecorino on top. Bake in a preheated oven, at 180 °C, for 20 minutes. When this time is up, turn the setting to grill and leave to cook for 5-10 minutes, until a tasty crust forms on the surface. Leave the pasta to “rest” for a few minutes before serving.
In our area a lot of people dry tomatoes straight after picking them, at the height of their nutritional and organoleptic qualities, in order to preserve them and be able to taste them all year round. The procedure is very simple, all you need is a strong ally, the sun! Cut the tomatoes (if possible San Marzano) in half lengthwise, arrange them on a rack and sprinkle them with salt, cover with netting to protect them from insects and dust, and position them in direct sunlight (move them indoors in the evening, to avoid the humidity of the night air). Put them in the sun in this way for 7 days, taking care to turn the tomatoes over from time to time, so they dry out evenly – they must become dry and wrinkled. Then put them – pressed down well – into sterilised glass jars, pour in extra virgin olive oil (it should cover the tomatoes completely) and close the jars hermetically. They keep for 8-9 months.
(1) La Vialla’s “Salsa Etrusca” (literally, Etruscan Sauce) has boiled egg amongst its ingredients; here we have avoided using it, in order to make the dish a bit “lighter”.