Sunday, July 11, 2010

Spaghetti Al Crudo

This is amazingly simple. I've just made a huge bowlful using some tasty tomatoes but without the capers and anchovies. It's very delish.

Spaghetti with tomatoes, olives, capers and anchovies. Crudo means raw, and in this recipe the sauce is uncooked. Look for a spaghetti with a surface that is slightly rough, rather than very shiny, because you need everything to cling to the pasta. Use quality ingredients, especially the tomatoes and basil.

Serves four (or six as a starter).

2 tbsp capers (baby ones, if possible)
4 tbsp black olives, pitted
5 anchovy fillets, finely chopped (Optional)
2 large ripe tomatoes, or 3 smaller ones (the best quality you can find), finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato passata
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g spaghetti
1 bunch basil
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Put all the ingredients except the spaghetti, basil and half of the oil in a sauté pan and mix together, but don't heat. Taste and season.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil (use a little less salt than usual, because the anchovies will add salt later), drop in the pasta and use a fork to curl the pasta around the pan so that it gets submerged quickly. Cook for about a minute less than the time given on the packet (usually five to six minutes), until al dente. (It was 9 mins with the pasta I used.)

While the pasta is cooking, put the sauté pan containing the ingredients for the sauce over the top of the pasta pan, so the steam just warms everything up a little and the flavours start to infuse.

When the pasta is cooked, drain, but reserve the cooking water. Add the pasta to the sauté pan and toss through, adding a little of the cooking water as necessary to loosen. Add the rest of the oil and toss through again. Tear the basil leaves, scatter over and toss through again. Serve straight away.

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