Do you ever eat a meal you’ve cooked numerous times and think, “perhaps this is my favourite meal ever”? I do. I always seem to be wondering what my favourite food or meal is, that if I had one last dinner to enjoy what would I choose?
I’ve decided that this is perhaps mine.
Someone on Instagram mentioned they’d love a recipe for my tomato pasta after I shared a picture on our Wales holiday. And although I almost don’t think it’s worthy of being called a ‘recipe’ or for me to tell anyone how to make something so simple, here it is.
It is basically pasta with a tomato sauce made from fresh tomatoes, cooked very quickly. I’m sure that I was inspired to first make this after watching a TV programme where an Italian chef on the Amalfi coast in a very posh hotel was making a tomato sauce for pasta this way.
I’m pretty sure that the quality of your tomatoes matters in this dish, after all you’re hardly adding any other flavours and if you use out-of-season-wishy-washy pale looking tomatoes I think it would taste pretty miserable. So finding good quality tomatoes, preferably in the summer months when they are at their ripest and in-season is essential.
I have used all kinds of tomatoes to make this sauce – larger ones cut up, cherry tomatoes left whole, cherry tomatoes cut in half, cherry tomatoes cut into quarters, multi-coloured tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, or a mixture of whatever I have to hand.
All you want to ensure is that they are roughly the same size so that they cook at the same rate.
The Other Ingredients
Pasta – any kind will do, just cooked as you normally cook it. Just make sure you save a mugful of pasta water before you drain the cooked pasta for possibly adding to the sauce.
I always used to cook the tomatoes in olive oil, now I more often use butter (I’m all about the traditional cooking fats these days), and then add extra virgin olive oil to the sauce at the end so none of its goodness is destroyed by heat in cooking. Butter will make it more tastier in my opinion.
Garlic – just finely chopped or sliced, however you think you’d like it. I’m getting lazier and so recently just slice it, I like having distinguishable garlic pieces in my sauce, but if you’d prefer just the garlic flavour feel free to finely chop it or put it through a garlic press.
Salt and pepper to season.
Optional but pretty yummy is lots of fresh basil and some hard salty cheese to sprinkle over the top (we love a sheep’s version of Parmesan we’ve discovered in Waitrose).
Fresh Homemade Tomato Pasta Sauce
1. As mentioned above, just cook your pasta as you normally do.
2. Depending on how speedy you are and how long the pasta takes, you should be able to make the sauce in the same time it takes to get the pasta on a cooked (I imagine for me this is usually under 10 minutes).
3. Put a frying pan over a medium heat and add a generous knob of butter.
4. Prepare your chosen tomatoes, e.g. perhaps cutting them in half if they are cherry tomatoes. Once the butter has melted and started to bubble, tip in the tomatoes and ensure they are over a medium-high heat.
5. As the tomatoes start to break down, this is when I add my sliced garlic. Give the pan an occasional shake or stir – the tomatoes should be releasing their juices and creating your sauce. Season with some pepper (hold off on the salt for now).
6. Once the pasta is cooked, save a mugful of pasta water and then drain. Depending on how big your frying pan of tomatoes is, either add the pasta to the tomatoes, or the tomatoes to the pasta.
7. This is where an extra pair of hands helps everything go quickly – one person to stir the tomatoes through the pasta, the other to tear in basil. If your sauce is a bit dry this is when to add some reserved pasta water a little at a time, it’s a wonderful trick I learnt so I always save some now for every pasta dish I make even if I don’t always add any.
8. Taste the pasta and sauce now to see if it needs any extra salt – don’t add it before because the pasta water is salty.
9. We eat ours with some more torn basil, a light sprinkling of grated sheep’s cheese, black pepper and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Yum.