I pulled up my tomato plants, no more fruit now, and with all the rain we had the last tomatoes tasted more of water than of tomato! The solution? An arrabbiata sauce! Please note that the chilies here are not mine except for the fat black one (I had two, a couple more still on the plant, not sure if I will ever harvest them though…).
My son Max loves arrabbiata, one of his favourite sauces, as long as it is not toooo hot. So I just used one chili and put it in the pot with the cut up tomatoes. I cooked the lot until the tomatoes where mashy (most were cherry tomatoes so it didn't take long!), then I passed the tomatoes through a sieve and collected the pulp minus seeds and peels. I cooked this until thick, added olive oil and salt, and the sauce was ready. Another way would have been to cook the tomatoes first and then add the chili to the tomato pulp, but this worked well.
Max fascination with chili led him to do a science project last year (year 8), and it was very interesting for me too. He bravely tried different chilies several times over a course of a few weeks, looking for the best antidote to spiciness. He was very meticolous, repeating the experiments over and over and even asked some of his friends to try (not very successful here though). For each type of chili he checked how many tbsp of water, apple juice, milk, yogurt or rice were needed to take the heat off.
The juice experiment soon became the hardest, as he quickly worked out that sweet fruit juices don't work! Water didn't help much either, since the capsaicin compound is hydrophobic, but these were all things that he had to work out himself, rather than reading them in books. As to be expected the best antidote in the list was yogurt, followed by milk (just above rice, the only solid food in the experiment).
Yogurt goes well with curry, and we often have a lassi drink or a raita when we eat Indian food, but what if the arrabbiata sauce is too hot? We wouldn't put yogurt here! Fortunately all fats work with capsaicin, and olive oil is one of the best, not good to drink, but perfect on pasta :-)
Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©