This is a sauce picked up, as it were, on a walk in the woods. It had been a good day for walking, and Victor and I wandered past our lunchtime into the early afternoon. Famished, we retreated to the nearest hamlet, a dozen houses, one of which had a sign: Bar Panini. Panini—sandwiches—are not what my husband considers food, but we had no other choice. Men were sitting at wooden tables, drinking grappa, talking about football. A pleasant, open-faced woman was behind the counter. My husband turned to her with his warmest gaze and pleaded, “Isn’t there anything besides panini one can eat?” “Yes, if you can wait twenty minutes,” she smiled back. It was closer to thirty minutes, but we sat down to a plate of pasta that tasted like the best food on earth.
She had browned bits of spicy sausage in sweet homemade butter and garlic and added tomatoes she had sent a little boy to pick from the garden back of the house. It’s a long story for a quick sauce, but it illustrates the impromptu nature of what to me is the best kind of Italian cooking.
In my version of the sauce there is no spicy sausage because I have never found any in America that wasn’t loaded with odd, inappropriate flavors. For it I have substituted the combination of the plainest sausage one can buy with chopped hot pepper to taste.
© 1986 Marcella Hazan estate. All rights reserved.