[We have a wander around Italy on the hunt for the most typical dishes of our heritage. Which you can also replicate at home, if you fancy. That’s right, because we’re also going to give you the recipe!]
The most famous Neapolitan (and Italian!) dish of all, and which everyone can manage, is Spaghetti al pomodoro! In our dialect here in Naples, we say Ca’ pummarola ’ngoppa [with tomato sauce on top].
What’s interesting is that every Italian family has its own recipe for tomato sauce. There are those who sauté garlic (in the South), others who sauté onion (in the North), and still others who add a knob of butter (again in the North; in Naples, they’re horrified by the idea). Some people love parsley, others maintain that the only aroma allowed should come from basil; there are those who love oregano (in Sicily), and those who add a pinch of sugar to avoid the acidic sharpness of the tomatoes...
So what to think? Which is the best recipe? What kind of question is that? Ours is, of course!
SPAGHETTI WITH TOMATO SAUCE
[preparation time: just under half an hour].
Ingredients [serves 4]
- 400g passata or a tin of peeled tomatoes (the best you can find)
- ½ white onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- pinch of salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- 80g spaghetti per person
In a saucepan (a frying pan works fine too), heat the extra virgin olive oil over a very low heat: a couple of minutes should be enough, otherwise it will get too hot.
Finely chop the onion and peel the garlic, leaving the cloves whole. Once the oil is up to temperature, raise the heat slightly and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is golden brown. Be careful not to let it burn. The garlic should also take on colour, without turning black.
Now it’s time to pour in the passata, adding salt to taste (just a pinch, enough to bring out the flavour of the tomato). The trick to achieving a perfect sauce is to let it simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes so that it loses its water content and slightly thickens. And if your kitchen gets splattered, don’t worry: it means you’ve got the hob on the perfect setting!
Once it’s cooked, add a few basil leaves (if fresh, use whole leaves) and a pinch of sugar (to smooth out the acidity of the tomato).
Your sauce is ready! Now it’s time for the spaghetti.
You should use a very tall saucepan, so it can hold a good amount of water (1 litre for every 100 grams of pasta). Salt the water only when it comes to the boil, but careful not to scald yourself: pour in the salt a little at a time to stop too many bubbles from forming (caused by the chemical reaction between salt and water).
Warning: spaghetti strands should never, ever be broken!
Strictly adhere to the cooking times shown on the pasta packaging, which starts from the moment the water starts to boil again.
Drain the pasta without rinsing it in cold water, and quickly pour it into the pan with the sauce, with the hob switched off. Stir well until even the last strand has taken on a lovely red colouring.
You can sprinkle plenty of grated Parmesan cheese on top or add diced mozzarella. Or simply enjoy your spaghetti with nothing else but classic tomato sauce...
Your 100% Italian lunch is served.
Tuck in! 💗