by Rosa Galeno.

I grew up in southern Italy. The summer seasons linger and the winters are cold and rainy with plenty of wind. Snow does not fall but the cold keeps everyone inside. All winter long my family would enjoy the fruits of summer and fall. My father would return from working the land as he would say and bring home bunches of beautiful green cherry tomatoes. He would carefully hang each bunch over a rope, where they would ripen. My mother worked hard all summer long preserving: garlic would hang, basil would be preserved in our region’s salt. And our family olive oil would be plentiful – in those days most families lived on one ton (no that’s not a typo – ONE TON) of olive oil per year – sounds like a lot but when you use olive oil for almost everything it is barely enough.

Chef Rosa Galeno prepping Tomato Friendship Sauce.

Chef Rosa Galeno prepping Tomato Friendship Sauce.

 My father would return from our dairy farm and bring home fresh milk. He always surprised his children with treats like special fruits or candy. I do not ever remember Papa coming home without something special in his pocket. He would smile and say, “what do you think is in my pocket?” and out would come his handkerchief filled with our treats. While all of this was going on my mother would be finishing up the most delicious supper.

Sarataciniello—(sarta-chi-kneel-low) We would all sit around the table to enjoy my father’s local recipe of this simple humble food meant to be shared with all.

Friendship Sauce


1 pint jar, or two of your own canned cherry tomatoes (or fresh in-season)
1 cup of finely chopped onions
½ cup of best olive oil
Handful of chopped basil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
Salt to taste
Red pepper flakes (I have always added a few chilis)
Crusty bread


Place pan over medium heat and let it warm up
After a few minutes add your oil
Then add your onions and let them cook until they are translucent
Add your garlic-and salt-pepper flakes and basil
Add your cherry tomatoes (for fresh tomatoes: if they are very ripe leave whole, if they have a tough skin cut in half)
Cover with a lid
Low heat, check frequently

You will see after ½ hour that the whole cherry tomatoes are ready to pop
With the back of your wooden spoon to gently pop
You will see the nectar release and the sauce immediately thickens
Add additional basil if desired
Toss again
If the sauce appears too thick add a little water
The sauce will cook until the oil comes to the surface in a dark color
This is how you will know that it is done

Place in the center of the family dinner table
Pull apart your bread
Everyone dips into the pot of friendship sauce
And the meal represents the unity of family and sharing

This is my favorite of all my foods because it reminds me of my childhood. Today I make this delicious sauce all year long. I preserve in the summer to taste my cherry tomatoes in winter, which I pull from my pantry. And in the summer I enjoy preparing this same sauce from fresh cherry tomatoes. Delicious every time

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As always make up something from your pantry,
Call your family to the table and share some memories