Tuesday 26 September 2017

Paolo's tomato sauce

Most cookbooks have a standard tomato sauce, often called a Neapolitan sauce, but my way breaks the usual rules. No seeds and no skin are important, so you can buy passata, which is nothing more than sieved tomatoes.

It's readily available in supermarkets and there's a wide variety to choose from. If you want to store the sauce for more than a few days in the fridge, cover the top of the sauce with olive oil.

YOU WILL NEED

½ litre passata

500g pasta

50ml olive oil

Garlic, to taste

A few leaves of basil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Method

Tip the passata into a wide-bottomed pan or skillet. Half a litre of passata will make enough sauce for a standard 500g packet of pasta. Put it on a high heat and add a splashguard if you don't want your work surfaces covered in spots of tomato.

Let the passata reduce to half of what it was, then turn down the heat and start to add your oil. At first the oil will just sit on top of the thickened passata, but keep stirring and the sauce will start to absorb the oil. Now you can add some crushed garlic, a few leaves of basil, salt and freshly ground black pepper, and your sauce is finished. You'll notice that doing it like this, your sauce will have a different consistency — it will be thicker, denser in flavour, richer and just possibly less digestible, but it will be delicious.

Adding the oil last has a major benefit — cooked oil loses that fresh spicy flavour, but this way it's simply warmed up with the sauce and that fresh olive oil taste will still be present. You'll also see that I add garlic at the end of the process — that's because garlic slowly loses its taste the longer it cooks. If you use oregano instead of basil, it becomes a pizzaiola sauce, used on pizzas.

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