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Monday, October 2, 2017

Fusilli w/ Raw Tomato Sauce | The Sweet Life

Fusilli w/ Raw Tomato Sauce | The Sweet Life
Fusilli w/ Raw Tomato Sauce
Welcome to the TLC Book Tours stop for the latest novel by Sharon Struth called The Sweet Life. This is a sweet story, if somewhat predictable. Mamie Weber is offered the chance to join a bus tour of Tuscany (sound familiar?), and though it's a covert assignment for work, she looks at it as a chance to try and move forward in the aftermath of a tragic accident that took her husband and daughter's lives 5 years ago.

This particular tour is filled with peaceable older (than she) folks, whose common thread is that they all attended Woodstock. They welcome her to their group, after helping her convince stickler-for-the-rules Julian to let her on the tour, even though the transfer paperwork wasn't sent through the proper channels.

Oh, and did I mention that Julian is handsome, single, similarly damaged, and around the same age? You can probably guess the basic path that this story takes. Two damaged souls helping to repair each other, and in turn, themselves.
Fusilli w/ Raw Tomato Sauce inspired by The Sweet Life
And while predictable, it was still fun to see the story...and out in the beautiful Italian setting. And when in Tuscany, one MUST eat - so there are plenty of delicious dishes to inspire and tempt you along the way.

I have one major (I think) complaint about this book - THERE ARE NO PAGE NUMBERS! GAH! I'm a note-taker and underliner, so not being able to reference a page number in my notes just about drove me insane.

But let's go back to the most delicious part of the book...and the main reason I've always dreamed of visiting Tuscany...the food. Simple Tuscan bread soup, Pappa al Pomodoro (stale Tuscan bread, tomatoes, garlic, basil), Wild Boar Ragu over Pappardelle, freshly baked bread slathered with Nutella, trays of salami, olives, cheese, and prosciutto, Lamb spiked with rosemary and garlic served with zucchini and potatoes with thyme. Sigh...
Fusilli w/ Raw Tomato Sauce
What I ultimately chose to make fit perfect seasonally here, because even though it's officially fall now, our end-of-summer tomatoes are still ripe and juicy and dripping off the vine, and we have lots of fresh herbs. What better way to feature them than in a raw (aka chopped and uncooked) sauce, tossed with al dente pasta?

Or maybe it was the meal's second course served by Chef Rao, a simple dish of fusilli with a raw tomato sauce served with generous glasses filled with Chianti.

The Sweet Life by Sharon Struth

The Sweet Life

author: Sharon Struth
publisher: Lyrical Press (September 19, 2017)
genre: Literature & Fiction > Women's Fiction > Domestic Life
paperback: 225 pages

"foodie" read: Not necessarily geared that way, but there is some good food mentions.

opening sentence: Mami Weber's hands trembled as she shoved aside iles of neatly stacked clothes inside her luggage.

teaser: In Italy, the best attractions are always off the beaten path...

Mamie Weber doesn’t know why she survived that terrible car accident five years ago. Physically, she has only a slight reminder—but emotionally, the pain is still fresh. Deep down she knows her husband would have wanted her to embrace life again. Now she has an opportunity to do just that, spending two weeks in Tuscany reviewing a tour company for her employer’s popular travel guide series. The warmth of the sun, the centuries-old art, a villa on the Umbrian border—it could be just the adventure she needs.

But with adventure comes the discovering that her entire tour group is made up of aging ex-hippies reminiscing about their Woodstock days. Or finding herself drawn to the guide, Julian, who is secretly haunted by a tragedy of his own, and seems to disapprove any time she tries something remotely risky—like an impromptu scooter ride with a local man.

As they explore the hilltop towns of Tuscany, Mamie knows that when this blissful excursion is over, she’ll have to return to reality. But when you let yourself wander, life can take some interesting detours...

about the author: Sharon Struth believes you’re never too old to pursue a dream. The Hourglass, her debut novel, is a finalist in the National Readers’ Choice Awards for Best first Book, and her Blue Moon Lake Novels include the bestseller, Share the Moon.
Sharon Struth, author pic

When she’s not working, she and her husband happily sip their way through the scenic towns of the Connecticut Wine Trail, travel the world, and enjoy spending time with their precious pets and two grown daughters. She writes from the friendliest place she’s ever lived, Bethel, Connecticut.

connect with the author: website | blog | facebook | twitter

recipe inspired by the book: Fusilli with Raw Tomato Sauce

Yield: serves 6-8
Fusilli w/ Raw Tomato Sauce recipe

Fusilli with Raw Tomato Sauce

prep time: 45 MINScook time: 9 MINStotal time: 54 mins
Juicy end-of-summer tomatoes and fresh herbs shine in this pasta dish tossed in a sauce that isn't cooked.


  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and split lengthwise
  • ~3 pounds perfectly ripe tomatoes (use a variety for best flavor results), unpeeled, unseeded, roughly chopped
  • small handful fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound uncooked Fusilli pasta
  • freshly grated Parmesan, Romano, or Pecorino cheese (for serving)


  1. Rub the cut side of the garlic generouly all over the inside of your serving bowl.
  2. Add tomatoes, herbs, olive oil, and crushed red pepper flakes to the bowl, as well as a few big pinches of salt and pepper. Toss gently and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, but up to 2 hours.
  3. Just before you're ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, until al dente.
  4. Drain in a colander, then immediately add to the serving bowl and toss all of the ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  5. Serve at room temperature with the cheese grated freshly over the top (and a deep glass of Chianti, if you like).
Created using The Recipes Generator

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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