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Pasta with Greek tomato sauce

January 24, 2009|By LYNNE ROSSETTO KASPER / Scripps Howard News Service

You will love the unruliness of this hollow pasta. It fights the fork, but picks up all the goodness of the sauce. Also, this recipe marks one of the few times you break pasta before dropping it into the pot. If ziti aren't to be had, use penne or rigatoni.

GREEK CINNAMON-SCENTED
TOMATO SAUCE WITH PASTA



5 quarts of salted water in a 6-quart pot

Sauce:

Good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 tightly packed cup of flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano (Greek oregano preferred)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Aleppo chilie, or other medium-hot chilie, or 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white or red wine
2 pounds ripe summer tomatoes, or a 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1 1/2 to 2 cups diced cooked roast chicken or lamb (optional) (organic if possible)

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Pasta:

1 pound imported long hollow pasta like ziti, broken into more or less 2-inch pieces
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Have the salted water boiling.

Generously film the bottom of a straight-sided 12-inch saute pan with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion, parsley and generous sprinklings of salt and pepper. Saute the onion to golden brown, then stir in the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, sugar and Aleppo pepper or other hot pepper. Turn heat down to medium and saute 1 minute. Add the wine and cook 1 minute.

If using fresh tomatoes, grate them on a grater over a bowl and add the pulp with its juices to the pan. For canned tomatoes, crush them as they go into the pot. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook the sauce for 8 minutes, or until thick. Taste for seasoning, remove the pan from the heat and, if using chicken or lamb, stir it in. Cover the pan.

Drop the pasta into the boiling water. Boil, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until the pasta is tender, but still has a little bite. As the pasta cooks, reheat the sauce over medium-high heat. Once the pasta is done, drain it in a colander and add to the sauce. Toss over heat for a minute or more to help the sauce permeate the noodles. Turn half of it into a serving bowl and dot with half the cheese. Add the rest of the pasta and top with the remaining cheese.

Serves 4 as a main dish.

Sauce can be made several days ahead and kept in the refrigerator.

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