I’ve always said that, for me, the hardest part of writing recipes is not really the recipes themselves, but the introduction. I’m never happy to post something without one. I think food, like most of the things in life, has to have some kind of context, no matter how small it might be.
Now when I say ‘small’ I don’t mean insignificant. I never mean that because to me that’s somewhat disrespectful. Eating with your partner, spouse, friends, or even alone is never a small thing.
I don’t want to sound too philosophical here. Leading busy lives means that sometimes we might skip supper and/or lunch with others. That’s one reason why I like to have people over for supper. Sometimes I do it on the spur of the moment, on a whim, when I know my pantry and fridge are stocked for that week. Sometimes I even wing it, without many ingredients to hand. We all have those days where all we want is to be alone, and for the most part I lunch alone, but nothing beats a full table.
And almost certainly nothing beats a simple pasta dish with a glass of vino, ideally eaten with friends on a large terrace, overlooking the sea. Now in my case, I can make the pasta thing happen, with a glass of and vino thrown in.
And why not? Alas (with a big sigh) I don’t have a terrace, let alone one with a sea view. I do have this image in my head though, and it’s looking good!
This version of my basic tomato sauce is perfect for the winter months though. Well, winter is not really cold here in Malta, but let’s say it’s great for the colder evenings. Throw in some rain and you’re done! You can vary this as you like it. And of course, it scales beautifully. Invite your friends over and give it a go!
- 500g dried fettuccine, linguine or spaghetti
- 1 red pepper, cut into cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- a few rashers of bacon or pancetta, cut in strips or cubes
- 400ml polpa di pomodoro (tinned tomatoes)
- 1 level tablespoon of Maltese Kunserva*
- 1 level tablespoon light brown sugar
- pinch of coarse salt, to taste (optional)
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
Boil a pot of water and cook the dried pasta according to packet instructions. I used fettuccine here, which I prefer over spaghetti but that is a personal choice. Go with whatever you have in your pantry.
Put a large shallow pan on medium heat. Allow it to heat up and pour in the olive oil. Tip in the chopped red pepper and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Add the chopped onion and garlic and let them sweat. When the onion turns translucent add the dried chilli flakes and the bacon or pancetta cubes. Give everything a mix and let the pancetta cook for a few more minutes.
Pour in the chopped tinned tomatoes, Kunserva* or tomato concertrate and brown sugar. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste. Ease up on the salt as the pancetta is salty. Let it bubble away. To that, pour around one third of a cup of the starchy pasta water.
When the pasta is done, add it into the sauce, or vice versa, depending on what space you have in each pan or pot and give everything a good mix.
Serves 4 hungry people, and scoop the extra sauce with some crusty bread. Come on, you know you want to.
Browse through C&T‘s archive for more recipes.
One year ago: Aubergine Chermoula
Two years ago: Chocolate Pasta with Pecan and Caramel Sauce
Four years ago: Easy Fish Cakes
Five years ago: Mouclade