“Originally from Catania, this simple dish has been adopted by the Polizzani as part of their summer kitchen,” writes Vincent Schiavelli in Many Beautiful Things. “The term picchii-pacchiu (pronounced pick-ye-pack-you) is an onomatopoetic expression of the sound of the knife as it chops the tomatoes and basil.”
Linguini with Fresh Tomatoes
From Vincent Schiavelli‘s Many Beautiful Things: Stories and Recipes from Polizzi Generosa, published by Simon and Schuster.
12 ounces vine-ripened cherry tomatoes (about 20)
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (1 large bunch)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 ounces fresh mozzarella packed in water
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
crushed red pepper
Fill a large pot with 6 quarts water, add 2 tablespoons salt, and bring it to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, clean the tomatoes, cut them in half, and coarsely chop them. Put them in a bowl. Prepare the basil and garlic, and mix them into the tomatoes. Season the mixture with salt, and add a few grindings of black pepper. Put the bowl near the stove.
Drain the mozzarella, pat it dry, and cut it into 1/4-inch dice. Place it on a plate near the pasta pot. Pour the olive oil into a small saucepan, ready to be warmed.
When the water comes to a boil, cook the linguini until al dente, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. During this time, warm a large serving bowl with hot tap water, and dry it.
Just before draining the pasta, turn the heat on under the oil to warm it.
Drain the pasta and put it into the warmed bowl. Quickly toss it with the warmed oil, then the tomato mixture, and finally the mozzarella.
Serve with crushed red pepper to taste.
Yield: 4 servings.