Ok, so I believe I MIGHT have cracked my grandma, sorry, Nonna’s ‘Pasta Pomodoro’. She taught it to me once, when I was very young, and like the idiot I am I didn’t write ANYTHING down. That, and if I had written anything down, I probably wouldn’t have followed it anyways – I never tend to follow recipes properly which is why my cooking can often be a bit hit or miss (well, at least when it comes to consistency).
So yesterday I made a big batch of tomato sauce (as I wanted the tins) and here is how I did it:
2 tins whole Italian tomatoes
1 tin whole cherry tomatoes
2 large whole garlic cloves (bruised)
2/3 large bay leaves
250 ml red wine
250 ml good beef stock
1-3 tablespoons of sugar
Pinch of salt
Large tablespoon of olive oil
Handful of fresh basil
OK, so this is SUPER easy: Place all ingredients, except the basil, in a pot, put the lid on and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. At this point, I break the whole tomatoes and then add a sprig or two of fresh basil and let it cook for another 10-15min. Once the sauce has a nice thick consistency, I take out the bay leaves and basil. If I want a chunky sauce I take the garlic out too otherwise I pop the whole lot in the blender and blend away.
So I know this is about the sauce, but I’m going to tell you how I cook pasta too (as I think it adds another dimension to the sauce/pasta experience). Basically, cook whatever pasta you like the way you usually do (with salt in the water) and cook to just before ‘aldente’ (that means the outside is soft, but the inside is a little hard). Drain the pasta and what I then do is add it to my sauce and cook for a further 2-5 minutes so that the pasta becomes ‘aldente’ but also absorbs the sauce. Lekker ne?
Serve with good parmesan or any other hard cheese and lots of fresh basil.
Once the extra sauce has cooled, you can freeze it for up to 3 months.
To bruise your garlic, just press the flat side of knife down on top of the clove until it splits (you’ll have to put some weight behind it).
Using a good wine in cooking ensures a tasty end result – you can always taste a cheap wine.
If you’re a vego, never fear – just substitute the beef stock for your favourite veggie stock. The wine will add a full ‘meaty’ flavour to your dish anyway.
Remember when you season your dish in the beginning to rather under season – flavours develop while cooking and too much salt or pepper can be disastrous. I always keep on tasting my sauce throughout the process to ensure you are getting the flavours you like.
Tomatoes can be very bitter; to counteract this most people add sugar. Keep tasting your dish and adjust the sugar levels accordingly. I heard somewhere that leaving your tomatoes whole right through the cooking process illuminates the bitterness; but I have tried this and still can’t say whether it works or not so I add sugar AND leave the tomatoes whole – just to be safe.
Leaving the basil in for too long will make the sauce taste more minty rather than basily.
The one thing I remember from Nonna’s cooking lesson was LOTS of olive oil, like ridiculous amounts. I don’t like using so much but I can tell you this for sure – it tastes SO much better with even just a little bit.
If you want a sauce with a bit of a kick, pop a dried chilli in at the beginning. Again, keep tasting to ensure it doesn’t infuse too much and you end up on fire as it’s too hot
You can use this sauce to put on your pizza’s too.