Green Tomatoes are relatively new to me. It wasn’t until a year or two ago that I decided I wanted to try them out. They are widely respected in the south of the U.S. and it seems even used in Italy but I think they go about as far as piccalilli in the North and I’ve yet to see one served here in Paris.
But I got the perfect opportunity to give them a go one year when my MIL’s garden was fading and none of us could bare to just let the green tomatoes go. This year, I asked at my favorite marché stand (remember, they sell directly from the farm) and they offered to bring some for me the next weekend. I knew I wanted to make something that tasted just as fresh as they are and when a bunch of vibrant green chervil landed in our caddy at the marché, I thought they could shine together. Have you ever had chervil? It’s lovely and delicate and wonderful in salads too. They even make a soup of it in France.
So, along with some crispy crumbled coppa and Parmesan, we had this super fresh sauce on pasta last week. It couldn’t be simpler! The season for green tomatoes is actually so short that I don’t have a lot of time to play around with them. Plus they will start to ripen on the counter after a few days. But little by little, I’ll try something new each year.
Fresh Green Tomato & Chervil Pasta
serves 4 to 6
5 slices of coppa*
about 3 pounds green tomatoes, washed and cubed
3 shallots, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 handful fresh chervil, roughly chopped
2 tbsp. butter (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat heat. When the pan is hot, add you slices of coppa allowing to cook until they are browned on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and brown the second side. Remove from the pan to a paper towel lined plate to absorb to extra grease, the slices will be soft but will become crisp as they cool. Pour off and discard all but one tablespoon of the fat left in the pan.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt the water, and add your pasta to cook according to package instructions. When you drain the pasta, reserve a cup of the cooking water.
3. Return the pan with the reserved oil to a medium heat and add the shallots. Cook until soft and translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the white wine and allow to reduce by about half. Had the green tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have softened and begin to break down a little and form a sauce. It you prefer, you can process the tomatoes for a smooth sauce but I like it to be chunky. Stir in most of the chervil, reserve 1/4 to garnish the pasta if you like.
4. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter. You don’t have to add this but it adds a softness and creaminess to the tangy green tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Crumble the crispy coppa slices into medium sized bits. Serve the sauce on or tossed through the pasta and topped with extra chervil and crumbled coppa.
* Coppa is a cured Italian meat. You could also used pancetta or good quality bacon.