Do you ever have moments when you're talking about something and you think to yourself "quick stop talking about that before you jinx it!"? This happens to me often, like the last time I said I hadn't had a flat tire in years and immediately got one when I was all the way down in Red Hook on my bike. Or if I ever think to myself "I can't even remember the last time I was sick?" and boom, I find myself with a summer cold.
Superstitions aren't for everyone, sure, but it was just this week that I found myself sitting in the backyard of Rose's, formerly Franny's, and was opining on the restaurant, which relocated up on Flatbush a few years ago, and their wonderful cookbook. I was excited to be in that backyard because I remember it fondly from my first year here in Brooklyn. I was telling a friend how it was familiar, and expressed a slight worry for the new location, which is north on Flatbush and closer to me, though further from pedestrian foot traffic. Then, lo and behold, today I got an email saying Franny's will close up shop on August 20th! I can't believe it! I've been going there for years and often when my family visits we make the trip just to indulge in their incredible crostini and the unparalleled clam pizza.
I know, maybe I'm cursed. It's a strange week for this to happen, what with my fixating on pizza and red sauce, and I had even been planning to stop in for a drink and a pie at some point before Sunday's episode. I can recall, I think for a birthday, going to the original location and sitting at the bar and ordering a margherita pie and a wonderful German pilsner all to myself once. It was a rite of passage, not just eating alone in New York (which is a wonderful experience and should be indulged in often), but ordering a whole pie right to the bar, just for me.
In any case, I was planning to tell you all about my favorite red sauce, and then this news just popped into my inbox. I often refer to the Franny's cookbook as the Italian bible. It really is that wonderful and if nothing will leave you with lots of flavor inspiration and a lot of creative, simple ways to use up your summer produce bounty. If you happen to pick up my copy and open it to a random page, it will undoubtedly open to a sauce splattered recipe for Pasta Fra Diavolo. This recipe, while not as simple as Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce, takes less time and is packed with flavor. It is quick to throw together provided you have enough garlic, herbs, olive oil, and a can of tomatoes laying around. I'll write the recipe as written, but I have long since been making the addition of adding some sausage to the sauce, because I feel it bulks it up a little in a nice way and in winter this heartier take is excellent.
Pasta Fra Diavolo
"A gutsy, punchy "red sauce" pasta is just right for the beginning of summer - here the Pecorino Romano lens a salty bite, and the spicy chili flakes add a sharp kick that is especially welcome when the weather starts to warm. We make this dish just before fresh tomatoes start showing up at the market but while bunches of herbs are available in abundance."
- 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 8 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 1 teaspoon of chili flakes
- 2 cups or a 28oz can of San Marzano tomato puree
- kosher salt
- 1 lb pasta, Bucatini suggested
- 1/4 cup finely chopped basil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped mint
- 1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 TB unsalted butter
- 3 TB finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for finishing the dish
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper
1. In a very large skillet warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes.
2. Add the chili flakes and cook for 30 seconds more.
3. Add the tomato puree and season with salt to taste. Cook until the oil separates and the tomato solids begin to fry, and the sauce has thickened, about 10 to 12 minutes.
4. Add 2 TB of water to the pan.
5. In a large pot of well salted boiling water, cook the pasta according to the package instructions until 2 minutes shy of al dente, and then drain. Toss the pasta in the the skillet with the tomato sauce, herbs, and butter. Cook over medium heat until the pasta is just al dente, 1 to 2 minutes.
6. Stir in the parmigano -reggiano.
7. Divide and serve pasta with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan. Enjoy!
Additions: sometimes I'll add a bit of lemon zest to really accentuate the acidic note of the tomato. Toasted bread crumbs are excellent on this! The recipe calls for each portion to be served with a fresh drizzle of olive oil, and I wouldn't skip it, but I love olive oil. If you want more heat, add more pepper. If you're nervous about the mint, trust me you're going to love it! But if I don't have mint around I just use fresh basil and it's never a disappointment. I cook my sausage, about three small links of just regular italian sausage, in a separate pan and add it to the finished sauce. Here you see I have chosen to blend it to a smother consistency, but you can skip that step entirely and still have a beautiful bowl of pasta!