The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins is the first cookbook I can remember buying.
I used to make a trip to the bookstore after work on many paydays to have a browse and to spend some of my recently deposited cheque. Most often I bought a novel to read during the next week’s commute so I don’t know what struck me to have a look in the cooking section. I’m so happy that I did.
The Silver Palate Cookbook was published way back then in 1982 and was an incredible success, eventually selling 2 and a half million copies. It was an eye-opening book which introduced me to some gourmet ingredients like raspberry vinegar and green peppercorns, and emphasised using the best ingredients to create full-flavoured food.
My copy is splattered and beat up now and sometimes I think I’ll get a new copy. On the book’s twenty-fifth anniversary in 2007, a special edition was released… with photographs. That’s right! The original version had no photos, only lovely line drawings and mostly not line drawings of the finished dishes, rather of an ingredient that was used in the recipe. How different from most cookbooks these days with their full-colour pictures of what the dish should look like when it’s finished.
I like my original version better.
Linguine with Tomatoes and Basil from The Silver Palate Cookbook is a great summer recipe for two reasons: 1) it requires almost no cooking and 2) tomatoes are almost ready to burst into season. As taught by Rosso and Lukins, it’s always a good idea to use the best ingredients, but especially so here because with so few ingredients, each one is going to be noticed.
Gather some of the ingredients.
Chop the tomatoes and put them in the serving bowl.
Slice the basil and add it to the tomatoes.
When the garlic bulbs you have stored have gotten old and dry, it’s nice to have a bottle of pre-chopped in the refrigerator.
Add the olive oil to the bowl with the tomatoes, basil and garlic.
Add the Brie cheese to the ingredients (a helpful tip: freeze the cheese slightly to make slicing it easier).
Grind some black pepper and add some salt to the tomato mixture, toss the ingredients then cover the bowl and let it sit until dinner time.
When you’re getting close to dinner, start the water boiling for pasta. Cook the linguini (or, in this case, spaghetti)…
… then drain it.
Add the cooked pasta to the tomato mixture, toss the pasta to get it coated with all the oil and tomatoes and basil and to get the cheese melted.
I don’t follow every instruction from the cookbook any longer, as I learned quite a while ago that adding oil to the water before the pasta is unnecessary and makes the pasta resistant to holding onto the sauce. And using any long pasta will work… spaghetti, linguini, bucatini… all good choices. The amount of olive oil called for in the original recipe is 1 cup which is a lot! 1/4 cup is plenty.
Recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.
Linguine with Tomatoes and Basil
4 to 6 portions
We first had this uncooked pasta sauce when we were guests in a beautiful home on Sardinia. Such a recipe could only be the result of hot, lazy days and abundant ripe tomatoes and basil. The heat of the pasta warms and brings out the flavours of the sauce in a wonderfully subtle way. Delicious and easy.
4 ripe large tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound Brie cheese, rind removed, torn into irregular pieces
1 cup cleaned fresh basil leaves, cut into strips
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1/4 tablespoon best-quality olive oil
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 pounds linguine
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)
Combine tomatoes, Brie, basil, garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a large serving bowl. Prepare at least 2 hours before serving and set aside, covered, at room temperature.
Bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Add the linguine and boil until tender but still firm, 8 to 10 minutes.
Drain pasta and immediately toss with the tomato sauce. Serve at once, passing the peppermill and grated Parmesan cheese if you like.