My son, Dylan, is a foodie in the making. Aw-shucks, if you were here as I typed in that sentence, you’d see me beaming from ear to ear. Whenever I’m cooking, he’s always buzzing around, asking me what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and can he do something, too. Maybe it’s the gleam on my 25 cm knife that has him mesmerized. Maybe it’s the flavour of the food I cook (I hope it’s the latter). But, man, if ever I want an appreciative audience (if that’s the right term) for my cooking, all I ask for is the presence of young Dylan.
When it comes to food, kids, as any parent will confirm, are fussy little so-and-sos. Sods, is another valid description. So you can imagine my delight when D (as I mostly call him) is quite open to a variety of preparations in fish and meat and chicken and veggies, as well. Mind you, all this despite the hype and pull of effing McDonald’s effing rubbish Happy Meal, possibly the numero uno meal available beyond the golden arches of Hell; Mr. Ray Kroc, sir, another portion?
Be that as it may, from all the stuff I make for D, he’s the happiest and most content when I plate up pasta with tomato sauce. Now, I’m a huge fan of la cucina Italiana. Mainly because of the simplicity, and the marriage of, and the absolute insistence on, quality ingredients. From my scanty knowledge of Italian food, I’ve gleaned that a good tomato sauce is a fundamental pillar of that ancient and remarkable cuisine. I’ve read a zillion recipes on how to make an authentic Italian tomato sauce, and I think I can make one that would make a Mamma proud and dissuade rock-pinkied gentlemen from feeding me to the pesce. Buono appetito!
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 top quality tomatoes (other option: canned tomatoes)
1/2 onion (cut real fine)
1 clove garlic (smashed and chopped fine)
1 tbsp tomato paste/purée
1/4 cup fresh basil
250 gms spaghetti
Extra virgin olive oil
Blanch tomatoes in boiling hot water for a couple of minutes.
Peel off skin, chop in quarters, get rid of seeds.
Heat oil in pan.
Heat should be on low.
Sauté onions till soft and translucent (cover pan; let cook for 10-12 minutes).
Next, garlic and basil.
Give another 5 minutes.
Then add the tomatoes and tomato paste/ purée.
And salt and fresh pepper.
Stir and let it simmer till it reduces to a nice, thick sauce.
Ideally, start on the pasta when the tomatoes are cooking.
Bring water to boil in a large pot.
Flavour water with a handful of salt.
Put in spaghetti (follow instructions on packet).
When done (al dente), set to drain in colander.
Add a few dashes of o. oil in pot.
Return penne to pot and swirl/toss it to give the pasta a coating of o. oil.
Place spaghetti in centre of plate.
Put a few scoops of tomato sauce on top of spaghetti (don’t submerge it with sauce; rather just ensure there’s enough sauce to coat the spaghetti when mixed into it).
Crack some fresh pepper over it.
Decorate with a few threads of olive oil.
Garnish with fresh basil.