Published January 21, 2011 by Tony


Neapolitan tomato bunch

It is the time here to use some food stored in the basement as like as some particular small tomatoes tied together to form a bunch.
I think that this particular species of tomato is characteristic of some specific regions of the southern Italy only and of Naples city especially. In fact it refers to a specific seed far-back bred along the Vesuvius side mainly. The plants, cultivated as any potato plant, produce small and pointed tomatoes harvested from June to August when any cluster is handspun to obtain a thick bunch we Neapolitan call “piennolo” (derived from the Italian word “appendilo”, meaning hang it)

Any piennolo then is stored in a fresh aired place to ripen slowly till to become dark-red, ready to be sold. The first harvest gives back a smaller and dried tomatoes good to be used in the short, while the biggest and watery ones can be stored longer and used first they start to become rotten. Generally they can be kept for many weeks depending on temperature. On average, any bunch (piennolo) is nearly 5 Kg.

People start to buy this tomatoes in September but we can find them in December too though their purchase price raises because – drying up – their weight decrease in the time.

Every year I’m used to buy some piennolo before Christmastime and keep them hanging out my balcony. The taste of these characteristic tomatoes is very peculiar, the flesh is more dried compared to other tomato and not as red colored as the peel – looking pink even – but, quite sweet with a delicate unique taste.

For these distinctive characteristic this tomato is used to prepare simple dishes and the best way to taste its flavor is to prepare a simple tomato-sauce with spaghetti. I like to use them with Vongolas,  an Italian fresh clams (Venerupis decussata) …… very delicious!

(for 2 people) Place a small saute pan (frying pan) over medium heat; add a finger of olive oil and a clove of garlic. Leave garlic to golden and in the meanwhile wash with water about 15 tomatoes. While tearing put them in the oil. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until tomatoes begin to break down and dry over a lower heat if the case. Mash a few with a spoon too and add some pinch of salt. It needs not more than 10 min to cook these delicate tomatoes. To taste their flavor you shouldn’t add anything else but, if you like can add some fresh leaf od basil at the end of the cooking. In the meanwhile cook 6 ounces of spaghetti in salt water according to package directions. Drain. Serve sauce over spaghetti and…. yum…. yum…..

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