Pomodorini scattarisciati – crackling cherry tomatoes (Puglia)

Update: summer 2022, Lucca: with top Italian pomodorini this dish is even more spectacular. I noticed they improve after a good rest, i.e. the day after they were even better.

Original version:
It is now summer, or at least this is what the calendar says; it has been raining for days here in London and the sky is grey, an elegant pearly shade of grey, but grey nonetheless. Not fun. To raise my endorphins, I decided to make this Apulian tomato sauce, pomodorini scattarisciati, literally crackling tomatoes (in the local dialect) — vibrant, intensely tomatoey and uplifting.

The cherry tomatoes are fried in a rather indecent amount of oil, on high heat,  uncovered until they start bursting. This is when you have to resist the temptation to keep on cooking them, as you would do with a normal tomato sauce – pomodorini scattarisciati are a cross between a chunky tomato sauce and whole, fried tomatoes. You can crush some of the tomatoes during cooking but, at least in my book (as usual, there are many versions of this dish), most of the tomatoes should remain whole, albeit in a squashed sort of way. The final result is this glorious mess, part sauce, part vegetable dish. You can add stoned black olives, capers, some basil too if you wish, at the very end. Pomodorini scattarisciati make an excellent pasta sauce but they are also divine spooned (at room temperature) over toasted bread or over some mozzarella. The beauty of this method is that it works well also with less than glorious tomatoes (an English speciality).

This is more a method than a recipe:

Wash some cherry tomatoes and dry them with a cloth. In a roomy saucepan, warm up an implausible amount of olive oil: generosity is paramount here. You can add a clove or two of unpeeled garlic and/or a little fresh red chilli, if you wish. When the garlic is light golden, remove it; by now the oil should be shimmering. Add the tomatoes: be careful, because they will splatter and crackle. Add some salt. Keep the flame high, do not cover (some people do, but I prefer a more aggressive cooking)  and stir occasionally, crushing some tomatoes along the way. When most of the tomatoes are just short of bursting or have just burst, switch off. You could add some stoned black olives, capers or basil, if you wish. Serve either hot as a sauce or at room temperature over toasted bread or even better over some mozzarella on toasted bread. Pomodorini scattarisciati are much better if left to rest for few hours.

13 thoughts on “Pomodorini scattarisciati – crackling cherry tomatoes (Puglia)

  1. Lovely to see you posting again! Just to be philological the ‘proper’ Apulian way to serve these as a pasta sauce is by topping them with friend breadcrumbs! then they really sing…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. grazie maria… ah si? I did not know that… but it makes sense and it is delicious. I had them again for lunch today, with toasted bread… amazing that such outstanding flavour comes from such basic way with tomatoes – thanks for the tip


  2. This is right up my alley. Less than glorious tomatoes are also an American speciality, although we’re getting into the period when you can find some tasty ones at the local farmers market. In fact, it’s a sunny, warm Sunday morning (the first in a while) so I might just head over there now…


    1. we r having a bummer of a summer here so far: lots of rain… english tomatoes are almost never good… and when they are good… they are just sweet… not under, more sour tones, which I think it is essential for a good salad (as in pomodori insalatari in Italy): but I seem to remember u r partial to red sweet toms… we had good asparagus so far and the peas and broad beans are good too… cherries… hit and miss, so far


  3. This is one of our preferred sauces for pasta and occasionally we do just what oh suggest – add olives and capers and basil. Perfection! Happy summer. It’s definitely arrived here – 111°F yesterday (44°C)!!


    1. ciao david… here is (so far) a hit and miss summer: it is lovely for one day and then it rains for three days ecc… Lucia most annoyed (she should be a working dog but clearly living in posh north london has affected her – she cannot stand the rain). this sauce: here in the uk, good tomatoes do not exist, even in high summer. cherry tomatoes make an excellent sub for sauce (but I get bored of eating them in salads: I do want some acidity too in my tomatoes, – they are simply too sweet)


  4. Less than glorious tomatoes can also be an American specialty! Which is why I grow my own. In the winter I only buy cherry tomatoes, which tend to be riper than any other variety available, although some times they have an unappealing thick skin when cooked this way. Love the way you served them over mozzarella.


    1. lucky u—- do u know that u can grow special variety that are picked in summer as usual, then stringed together and hung on a wall… they last for months – in a areated room … pomodori del piennolo (from Campania) and pomodori della regina from Puglia (it is a slow food presidium, I think)


        1. do u know Camone toms? they are a gorgeous late winter variety… really special (a new variety: it was introduced about 20-30 yrs ago, from Sardegna and Sicily)


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