This is a fantastic, fresh and quick sauce that relies on good, ripe tomatoes for its flavour. I recommend using vine-ripened tomatoes for their lovely balance of acidity and sweetness, or roma tomatoes. (If the tomatoes seem too watery when you cut into them, place the diced tomato in a colander over the sink and leave to drain for about half an hour so it loses some of its moisture.) I want the tomato and basil to be the stars of this sauce, with nothing to get in the way of such a fine balance of flavours.
Tomato Sauce or Salsa di pomodoro
Makes enough for 4
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly squashed
- 1 red chilli, cut in half lengthways (optional)
- 600 g very ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded (see below), then diced
- sea salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over low heat, add the garlic and chilli (if using) and stir with a wooden spoon until the garlic just starts to colour. Discard the garlic and chilli.
Increase the heat to medium–high. Add the tomato and salt to the oil and simmer gently until the tomato has broken down and the liquid starts to boil away. Stir often and take care not to let it burn. When the sauce starts to emulsify and thicken (after about 4–5 minutes), remove the pan from the heat. At this point you can stir in the basil.
The sauce is now ready to receive your chosen pasta – spaghetti would be my first choice.
NOTE: How to peel and seed tomatoes
Cut a cross at the base of the tomatoes and plunge into boiling water for about a minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place the tomatoes in iced water until the skin starts to wrinkle. When cool, drain and peel the tomatoes – the skin should slip off easily – then cut them in half and use a teaspoon to scoop out the seeds.