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A 5 lb Can of Tomatoes, Clams & Spaghetti

Posted in Caro Diario.(dear diary..), Country House Living, cucina, cucina povere, La Dolce Vita, Pasta, recipes, slow food, the Mediterranean diet, Uncategorized, and Upcoming Appearances

copyright 2011 Art of Living, PrimaMedia,Inc/Maria Liberati


Today in my kitchen I opened up  the largest can of tomatoes (5 lbs 10 ounces)  I have ever opened. It was also the sweetest can of tomatoes I ever opened… not because they were  San Marzano tomatoes..but because they were one of the last ingredients found in my aunt’s kitchen the day she passed away, almost a year ago.

The can weighed just as heavy on my kitchen shelf as her loss weighed on my heart. It almost seemed that as long as the can was there ,she was here , at least in spirit. But today I was finally able to bring myself to open this 5 lb can of tomatoes and  making 10 small containers of sauce.

As the can opener whirled around this gigantic lid, I found myself staring inside almost thinking that something else would be inside. Her life ,her face, quickly glimmered in my mind. But all that appeared inside the can  were these beautiful fragrant, red ripe tomatoes. She would have approved these for a tomato sauce.The aroma was haunting. True to her last words, “Please don’t ever forget me”. This sauce will produce even more reasons to reminisce about her I have this empty can that I absolutely can not trash.Who knows maybe I will put a tomato plant inside…

Spaghetti with Red Clam Sauce


1 lb baby clams

4 tblsps olive oil

2 cloves minced garlic

2 tblsps finely chopped parsley

1 14 oz can peeled tomatoes

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 lb spaghetti

Steam clams for 2 minutes. Discard clams that remian closed.  Set liquid aside. Remove clams from shells, leavea few intact for plate  garnish.  Place oilive oil in saucepan with garlic. Saute till garlic begins to turn golden.  Add in chopped parsley, liquid from clams. Suate until liquid has evaporated. Add in clams, tomatoes. Simmer for 20-25 minutes. Cook pasta in boiling salted water till al dente. Drain. Place in sauce ,toss and serve.  Garnish with parsley, and whole clams.

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June 11-12, Great Grapes wine tasting, food festival, Cockeysville, MD. The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati t mtakes center stage wit hcooking demos and book signings. Email: for more info or sponsorship info

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  1. Diane Pieritz
    Diane Pieritz

    Right before I opened your email I was talking to a friend about how hard it is to go through a loved one’s things and to have to get rid of them. I found your story so true and very touching.

    June 7, 2011
    • Thanks Diane for sharing your sentiments. It is very difficult, and I am glad to know that I am not the only person that feels this way. I try to keep something that is a reminder of something special that person did. It doesn’t have to be a piece of jewelry or something that is expensive. A card, a letter, a small object, no mattter how insignificant it may seem to others, that person’s spirit in someway touched that object. And even though I know we all need to get on with our lives and not dwell on the past, everyone leaves behind special memories that are worth holding onto in some way. Of course a can of tomatoes can only be kept for so long, but I thought that since she loved to cook it would make that memory more special if she knew I used it to make a delicious sauce, just as she did! And the emprty can, well.. that will probably take me another year or two to get rid of! Have a great summer and hope to hear from you.

      June 7, 2011

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