stories

Routine foods: tomato pasta

left: original artwork, right: the tea towel itself (creased, stained and used)
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One of my ‘chores’ as an early teen was to make pasta for our family of five on a Monday while Mum went to big Sainsbury’s to do the weekly shop with my younger sisters. We didn’t eat the same meals every day of each week other than Mondays, when we always ate pasta. I was taught how to make a simple tomato sauce - the same one my mum lovingly batch-cooked and separated into freezer bags for me at uni, the same one all five of us still cook now. It's also the same sauce that I left on a too-high heat for an hour when trying to flaunt my cooking 'skills' to a friend; it destroyed my mum's best pan and we still don't talk about that. It’s not a unique recipe, there are no secret ingredients or skill required but there is a homely comfort to cooking this from the ingredients in your cupboard at the beginning of the week, before you’ve had time to do the big shop.

The recipe

Serves 2 hungry people
20 minutes - an hour

1 garlic clove
1 tin chopped tomatoes
300g dried pasta
(we prefer rigatoni for this)
Olive oil
Pamesan & basil leaves
(optional)

In a small saucepan, heat a big glug (three to four tablespoons) of extra virgin olive oil on a medium heat. Finely chop a clove of garlic and fry for one to two minutes.  When the garlic starts dancing, as it's starting to very lightly brown, add the tin of chopped tomatoes. Season, add some chilli flakes or oregano and turn to a low heat.

Stir and simmer for at least twenty minutes - the flavour becomes richer if you leave for longer so taste as you go. If you're only cooking for twenty minutes, you might want to turn up the heat at the end in order to let the sauce thicken. Add another glug of olive oil a few minutes before you're ready to eat (the taste of olive oil and tomatoes is beautiful). Stir into al dente rigatoni or spaghetti (or whatever pasta you like). Add basil leaves if you have them, finely grate some parmesan if you have any. Some extra salt and a little of your best olive oil is always good. Make sure you have a little bread (a scarpetta) to mop up the sauce at the end.