Scrolling through one of my inundated email inboxes the subject line, Inside Le Club 55, The Hottest Celebrity Playground In Saint Tropez, caught my attention but what really set me off was seeing the hashtag, #ramatuelle at the end of this ‘news’ brief.
I alway credit my passion for cooking and thinking that I too could probably do pretty well since my bestie Hol made me a dish years ago that she called ‘Pasta Ramatuelle’.
A rush of memories came over me of the hot summer night dinner, decades ago now, of being in a lovely garden ‘coeur’ at Holly’s mom’s ‘place’ on the Upper West Side. Earlier in the day Hol set out about three bowls, each she put minced garlic, a good amount of olive oil, chunks of fresh tomatoes & a light shower with some salt & pepper. Then she placed a kitchen towel over each them and let them sit out in the garden warming during the day. Much later in the evening she cooked off various types of pasta which she tossed into the bowls of garlic infused oil and chunky tomatoes. Just before serving the pasta she strewn roughly chopped basil over the top of each bowl for about 9 of us. “We used to make this in the summer, we call it Pasta Ramatuelle.” I thought then it’s a name her family made up. I did not know then that it was a town or community named Ramatuelle, never mind that I’ve come to learn it’s a neighboring town of St. Tropez. I know she’d spent a great deal of time in France, and Corsica in the summer but didn’t think much more of that UNTIL I read the piece – mentioned above.
Upon finishing the ‘brief’ about where celebrities hang in St. Tropez I rang Hol and left this message on her cell which went straight to voice mail, without even one ring, “Hol, call me. I need to talk pasta Ramatuelle with you.” Click.
Not long after that, maybe an hour or s0 later Holly called, “OK, what’s up?” I proceed to tell her basically what I’ve written here but then I get specific. “You don’t use lemon juice in your Pasta Ramatuelle, do you?” “NO”. I told her that I saw that in one of the recipes I found on line and the batch I made that afternoon I gently cooked off 3 minced garlic cloves in olive oil then squeezed the juice of half a lemon into that and turned the heat off – probably in the same amount of time it took to read this is how long I cooked the garlic & lemon juice for.
Back to our conversation: “Hol, do you skin & seed the tomatoes?” “Nope. Just cut them into chunks. ”
The deal with the dish is this: except for cooking the pasta, the ‘sauce’ is not cooked. How we do it is:
Begin by mincing 3 garlic cloves. Get those into a nice serving bowl. Shower with a seasoned salt or S&P. You definitely want to use very nice, preferably a full bodied green olive oil, but good olive oil, non the less. Be generous with the olive oil. Add the tomato chunks. This is the epitome of seasonal cooking because you’d only make this dish when you have access to heirloom or farm fresh tomatoes. We always took the bowl outside, covered the top with a kitchen towel & let it sit outside, not in direct sun but in a place that it would get warm. At the end of the day when we were ready to eat, we’d cook up the pasta, drain it, always reserving at least a cup of the cooking water – out of habit really, stir to coat well and that’s about it, OH, top with roughly chopped fresh basil.” Hol, do you use Parmesan? NOPE, I don’t, we don’t but Kim’s boy’s wouldn’t think of eating it or any pasta for that matter without heaps of Parmesan.” Thanks Hol. Have a great Labor Day wknd & I’ll speak to ya soon. I’ll be making bowls of pasta Ramatuelle.
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 a cup or more of very good olive oil
1 or 2 large heirloom tomatoes
S&P = Salt of D Earth
a bunch of basil – 1 cup – roughly chopped
cooked pasta – I used Orecchiette though the original dish calls for cappelini
Because I love this dish so much I used orecchitte because it’s so toothsome vs. the finer traditional option, cappelini.