We met Beatrice Tosti di Valminuta when she was one of the presenters at the North Hill Symposium, “The Kitchen Garden and the Table,” in Vermont. The co-owner of two New York restaurants, Beatrice is also the chef, a title that barely begins to describe her lifelong love of cooking. She was scheduled to speak on “Seasonal Bounty: The Roman Way with Vegetables,” and her generous nature was clear from the start. She walked on to the stage, followed by a table being carried out and laden with food representing her birthplace, the gorgeous abundance spilling off the table looking like something out of a Caravaggio painting. Beatrice went on to captivate the audience with her stories and passionate advice — to make the best of humble ingredients, the more the better, and that every day is a banquet.
We were especially thrilled to discover that though a native Roman, she has family ties to Napoli and was intimately familiar with the tomatoes we’re experimenting with. We are grateful to Beatrice for not only offering her thoughts on the Pomodori del Piennolo, but for also sharing her recipe for the dish that, for us, that started this all.
Whenever in Napoli I see the Pomodorini del Piennolo (or hung tomatoes) everywhere. They hang from the ceiling of every old school “Verduraio” vegetable shop, and the important thing in the storage tecnique is the ventilation. I am sure the balmy air of the Vesuvio and of Puglia play a huge role in giving the pomodorini that delicious taste come Christmas, and up until April or May. It cannot be too cold, Napoli rarely goes below 40/45 degrees so pick a room that is ventilated and will not get too cold or too warm.
Did you know that the pomodorini in Napoli have been such a staple for centuries that they are always represented in Christmas Creches? There is not one Neapolitan that will forget the Pomodorini del Piennolo for their Linguine con le Vongole always present on their Christmas Eve menu. Of course you can use the Pomodorini del Piennolo in the same way you use any other tomato.
— Ciao, Beatrice
Spaghetti con Pomodorini del Piennolo
Spaghetti with hanging tomatoes
1 lb spaghetti
3/4 lb pomodorini del piennolo [about 2 pints]
Extra virgin olive oil, let’s start with 4 tablespoons add as you see fit
3 garlic cloves
Coarse and fine sea salt
1 glass of wine for the cook
Have a nice sip of wine breathe and smile.
Place your favorite pasta cooking pot with water over stove on high heat add coarse sea salt when boiling.
Wash the pomodorini and cut them in half.
Place oil, garlic and a pinch of salt in a large saute pan over medium low heat and let the garlic turn blond.
Add the pomodorini and taste for salt adding some in case you feel your sauce is bland. Cook for about 7 minutes and spaghetti is super al dente. Let cook for 2 or 3 minutes add basil and serve warm adding some raw extra virgin olive oil if you feel it can use it.
Remember to always save the cooking water from the pasta, it is the best remedy if you feel that the pasta is becoming a little dry.
If you find yourself in New York, plan to visit Beatrice’s trattorias, Il Bagatto and Il Posto Accanto. We hope you bring some pomodorini for her. For more recipes and cooking advice, see also her Allora videos.