I have to share this recipe with all of you before you make your New Year’s resolutions. Why? Well, it is exquisite in its decadence, clever in its simple execution and I think everyone should taste it at least once. This pasta was introduced to me several years ago by my then roommate and food guru, who based it off of a Marcella Hazan recipe. I made it our special way many times before I learned of her influence. The recipe was initially tweaked by my roommate and I have added my own touches, most notably, the addition of melty fresh mozzarella and a tiny burst of heat to compliment the rich, sweet sauce.
Use whichever type of pasta strikes your fancy. I usually make this with spaghetti, but I had linguine on hand.
Do try to get a dark honey, such as buckwheat. Those molasses notes make an absolutely stunning addition and elevate the tart, brassy flavor of tinned tomatoes. I usually find my buckwheat or wildflower honey at farmer's markets or small specialty grocers.
Linguine alla Marcella con Mozzarella
Makes 8 servings
1 1/2 lbs pasta of choice
1 yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2“ pieces
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 - 2 teaspoons buckwheat (or similar) honey
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1. In a medium pot over low flame, combine tomatoes, onion, butter and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. The sauce will need to simmer on low for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.
2. In the last 20 minutes of cook time for the sauce add honey one teaspoon at a time, until it is as you prefer it (should be just a touch sweet, like a bursting-ly ripe cherry tomato) adjust for salt and pepper. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions.
3. Strain pasta and reserve 1/4 cup pasta water. In a large mixing bowl mix pasta, sauce, mozzarella and pasta water together.
Serve garnished with chopped flat leaf parsley.