Sunday, April 30, 2017

Simple pasta with tomato sauce

Among the staples I have in my pantry are the makings of a simple tomato sauce which forms the base of many a dish that is not only hearty but yummy. Like spaghetti and meatballs. Lasagna. Even pizza and eggplant parmigiana. When cooking for a few people, I might attempt a more ambitious dish but when I’m cooking for just myself, nothing beats a a bowl of pasta smothered in home-made tomato sauce.

Many years ago, when my son, B, and I were in Rome, we gorged ourselves silly on Italian food from pizza to gelato. But what was out absolute favorite was the simple pasta with tomato sauce that was usually served as a first course. It was so good that we would have been perfectly content just to eat a huge bowl of that and forgo the meat entree. I don’t know what it was - the sun-ripened tomatoes, fresh pasta or just the fact that we were eating pasta in Rome, but nothing has come close to the deliciousness of that dish ever since.

I make do, of course, buying vine-ripened tomatoes from the supermarket when they are in season. More likely than not (because the vine-ripened tomatoes are exorbitant!), I’ll use canned tomatoes and console myself that they are from Italy! Then it’s just a matter of sautéing some minced onions and garlic in olive oil, adding the tomatoes and letting the sauce simmer away while I cook the pasta.

You can add a little sugar or honey to the sauce if it’s too acidic. Jamie Oliver has a neat trick of adding some balsamic vinegar which works great too. Fresh basil is a must and luckily I have some growing on my balcony so I can snip some leaves off to add when the sauce is done. Grating in some parmesan also adds another dimension to the sauce.

Some people like adding in some vegetables to the sauce. I suppose you can’t go wrong with arugula, baby spinach or even sliced zucchini, but more often than not, I just like heaping the tomato sauce alone over pasta and tucking in!

Pasta with tomato sauce

I kg of ripe tomatoes or 800g of canned tomatoes
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small bunch of fresh basil, chopped
Olive oil
Splash of red wine or balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
500 g dried spaghetti
15 g parmesan cheese

1. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan.
2. Add the onion and cook till translucent. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute.
3. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and vinegar.
4. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes.
5. While cooking the sauce, bring a large pot of water to boil, add some salt and the spaghetti. Cook according to directions on packet.
6. When the sauce has reduced to a thick consistency, remove from heat and add the basil leaves.
7. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain and add to the pot of sauce.
8. Serve with grated parmesan and some whole basil leaves.

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