Spaghetti al pomodoro
Serves 4 people
5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 (28oz can) of plum tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon sugar
pinch of oregano
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper.
1 lb pasta (feeds 4 people as a starter)
1. Use a bigger saucepan than you think you’ll need (splattering is key!), heat the olive oil.
2. When hot, add the tomatoes so you’re essentially frying them. It’s just as important to use a good brand of tomatoes as it is to use a good brand of pasta. I can blind taste the difference between Barilla and De Cecco in a second. For tomatoes, I like to use Cirio or Mutti and for pasta, De Cecco or if you’re going artisanal, then pasta from Gragnano is the best. As sacrilegious as this may sound, I think dried pasta is better for this dish than fresh.
3. Next, add garlic cloves cut in half, sugar, oregano, bay leaf and generous amounts of salt and pepper.
4. Turn up the heat and let it splatter away. This stage can take as little as 15 minutes or you can leave it as long as 40 mins having reduced to a very low heat.
5. Discard the garlic pieces and the bay leaf. I then use a potato masher to smooth out the sauce but if you don’t have one, the back of a wooden spoon works too.
6. Boil plenty of salted water (my mother’s friend, Anna del Conte, says it should be as salty as the Mediterranean) and cook spaghetti according to packet. I estimate 5ozs per person (we still insist my mother cooks at least 7ozs per person as there never seems to be enough). Always scoop out a cup of the salty water before you drain whenever making pasta, it can be used to rehydrate leftovers or, more likely, second portions.
7. Now the important part is to add the spaghetti to the sauce and cook for another minute or two so the sauce begins to infuse the pasta.
8. Serve on warmed plates and then at the table, add all the extras; tear some fresh basil, grate some fresh parmesan and then pour some good olive oil to ensure you get that special orange sheen!