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Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Arrabbiata Sauce, or Tomato and Chilli Sauce, for Pasta etc

This is a great sauce, very quick to prepare,  and completely vegetarian, therefore a good antidote to all the meat guzzling that’s been going on at this time of year.  The blast of chilli will warm you up on a winter's day, too.

I add basil almost as a default to tomato-based sauces, but traditionally parsley is used here.  As always, juggle the quantities to suit.  Only use fresh tomatoes if you have the really flavoursome ripe ones available – don’t even think of making this with the awful supermarket hothouse variety; they will turn into a pallid, tasteless mush.  Use canned ones instead.

Arrabbiata Sauce, or Tomato and Chilli Sauce recipe:

Ingredients for around 4 servings:

1 pound/450grams good tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, peeled and diced finely
2 or more cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed or diced finely (this sauce should be good and garlicky, so use as much as you dare)
1 or more chillies, depending on the heat you like, chopped fine.  You can also use dried chilli flakes, or even a good slug of chilli sauce, homemade or bought.
A splash or two of red wine
A pinch or two of sugar, any kind: you don’t want to make the sauce too sweet, but it does mellow both the acidity of the tomatoes and the chilli heat
A little salt and some freshly ground black pepper
The grated zest and juice of a small lemon
A little olive oil for frying

To garnish:
Fresh parsley, chopped finely (isn’t it about time you got yourself a good chef’s knife?) – a good handful


Gently sweat the onion and garlic in the olive oil over a fairly gentle heat for about five minutes – it should soften, and maybe take on a little golden colour, but not brown.  As mentioned in previous recipes, garlic takes on a very unpleasant bitter taste if it’s over-fried.

Add all the other ingredients except the parsley, bring to the boil, then immediately reduce to a slow simmer, stirring occasionally – it is ready in about fifteen minutes.

Sprinkle the chopped parsley onto each serving as it goes to the table.

Serve over any kind of pasta, or a jacket potato, or even on its own to be mopped up with bread.  If you serve it in those big, white pasta plates, it’ll look like something that has come out of a restaurant kitchen, especially once the parsley is sprinkled on top.  Not bad for five minutes prep and twenty minutes cooking.

Note: Chilli, chili, chilie, chillie etc are all variant spellings, and there is no real international consensus as to which is correct.  I tend to use the first, but I reserve the right to change my mind at will.

Further note: all'arrabbiata translates roughly as “angry style” due to the heat from the chillies – so be brave, and make the angriest sauce you dare!

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