Landis Wiedner – epilepsy podcast host

Sarah Grueneberg – chef + owner, Monteverde

Monteverde – open for lunch and dinner, Tues – Sat

1020 W. Madison St., Chicago, IL 60607


-November is Epilepsy Awareness Month and for the entire month, for every Spaghetti Al Pomodoro ordered at the restaurant, Monteverde is donating $2 to the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago.

-The foundation is hosting a Casino Night on Saturday, November 4th to raise funds that that support its free programs—like mental health services, education, and advocacy—for those affected by epilepsy in our community.

Casino Night hosted by The Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago

Saturday, 11/4, 7PM

Mae District – 19 E. 21st St, Chicago, IL 60616



Serves 4 to 6

This pasta is really special. I learned to make it at Nadia Santini’s three-star restaurant, Dal Pescatore, in Lombardy. It is the perfect version of five ingredients done well. To me it embodies the beauty of the pasta marriage ceremony because the pasta cooks in the pomodoro sauce and pasta water, absorbing all of that incredible flavor. It’s like an extended wedding, if you will. To read my full aha moment behind the pasta marriage ceremony, see page 401.

Kosher salt

1 pound dry spaghetti

1 tablespoon everyday olive oil

1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced

6 cups Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)

1 cup fresh basil leaves

Super-special extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Sesame Za’atar, for finishing (recipe follows; optional)

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season it delicately with kosher salt, as you will use a good amount of the pasta water in the sauce. Add the spaghetti and cook the pasta only halfway in the water; if the package says 10 minutes for al dente, then cook the spaghetti for 5 minutes. Do not drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and toast for 1 minute, or until golden brown. Add the tomato sauce and warm through. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and, using tongs, transfer the pasta to the saucepan. Using a rubber spatula, stir the pasta with the sauce often to prevent sticking. Continue to cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente and has absorbed most of the sauce. Finish with fresh basil leaves. Serve with a drizzle of super-special olive oil, and sprinkle some za’atar over the top, if you like.


Makes a little more than ½ cup

Inspired by the za’atars (spice blends made with sesame seeds) of the Middle East, this za’atar seasoning is full of yummy deliciousness. It’s balanced with nuttiness from the sesame and bright acidity from the sumac and citrus zest, then rounded out by the fresh green herbs. Of course the chef in me likes to use it to jazz up the spaghetti, but it’s truly optional.

¼ cup toasted sesame seeds

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, lightly chopped

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, lightly chopped

1 tablespoon ground sumac

Finely grated zest of ½ orange

Place all the ingredients in a mortar and use a pestle to press and crush until well combined. You can also finely chop the herbs and mix everything in a bowl. The za’atar will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.

Get it, Get It: I like to have toasted breadcrumbs in my pantry to garnish salads and pasta. I love the extra crunch the breadcrumbs add to this pasta too. In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, toast 1 cup of panko or coarse dry breadcrumbs (from Italian-style bread) with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, stirring, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with a pinch or two of salt. Let cool, then store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Tomato passata is simply uncooked tomato puree or pulp that has been strained of seeds and skins. It’s available in jars in most grocery stores, but if you can’t find it, you can substitute tomato puree.


Makes 8 cups

I created this recipe to replace tomato sauce that cooks all day on the stovetop, which is often the way traditional Italian households do it. An all-day sauce is amazing, but it (obviously) takes a long time and can create a big mess. This version saves time in both cooking and cleaning—something everyone can use to make cooking more fun. The key to achieving the rich flavor comes from the cooking method. By drizzling the olive oil over the tomatoes and not stirring it in, the top layer of tomatoes gets some nice caramelization in the oven—it’s kind of like a cheater way of frying them. I also use a Microplane zester to grate the garlic, imparting just the right amount of garlic flavor.  I like to use this sauce in hearty meat dishes, like my Soppressata Meatballs Stewed in Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce, and in less meat-centric dishes too, like my Roman-Style Eggplant Parmigiana and Sauce-Simmered Spaghetti al Pomodoro with Sesame Za’atar.

3 tablespoons everyday olive oil

Three 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano; see Get It Get It)

2 garlic cloves

2 dried bay leaves

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably wild Calabrian)

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 handfuls of torn fresh basil leaves

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Pour 1 tablespoon of the oil into the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch flameproof baking dish; rub it all over the bottom and sides of the dish. Pour in the canned tomatoes. Using your hands, crush them; remove any skin that may be stuck to them. Using a Microplane, grate the garlic cloves over the top of the tomatoes. Stir in the bay leaves, salt, oregano, fennel seeds, and basil. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and let it sit on top of the mixture; do not mix it in. Bake for 1 hour.
  2. Turn the broiler to high and place the tomatoes about 2 inches from the heat source. Allow them to char slightly on top, for about 5 minutes. Let cool, then discard the bay leaves. Transfer the sauce to an airtight container and keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 2 months in the freezer.

Get It, Get It: I like using imported whole peeled Italian tomatoes for this recipe, specifically San Marzano, which are grown in volcanic soil and have more flavor because of it. I find canned San Marzano tomatoes are less watery and more flavorful than other canned tomato products.

This sauce is rich and robust and chock-full of chunky crushed tomatoes. If you are wanting a smoother sauce, feel free to sub 3 cans of crushed tomatoes or blend the sauce in a blender or food processor until smooth.

From Listen to Your Vegetables by Sarah Grueneberg and Kate Heddings. Copyright © 2022 by Green Mountain Collection, LLC. Reprinted by permission of Harvest, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.