When I lived in Italy and unexpectedly because the house chef for an apartment of five, this was my favorite standby dish. You can even eat it three or four times a week and not get bored, because it is so easy to add in meat or different vegetables. My style of Italian cooking is very light and fresh, so this sauce is very quick to make.
Serves – about four people
Cooking time – 15 minutes
- 1 box of pasta (you can use anything, and it depends what you are adding to the sauce. With meat, shells are good; with vegetables, penne can be good; plain, a thick tube paste works great. I just don’t recommend small shapes like ruote or macaroni)
- 1 medium onion
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 4 cloves of garlic
- salt + pepper
- extra virgin olive oil (should be cloudy and very green/grassy smelling)
- pepperoncino (do not substitute with cayenne pepper, which has a different after taste. Use Indian red chili powder if you cannot find dried pepperoncini)
Optional extras (This is what I like adding, but there are thousands of combinations)
- sausage (with casing removed) [spice with oregano or thyme]
- zucchini (or other summer squash – juliened) [spice with a bit of basil]
- ground beef or turkey [spice with fresh rosemary]
- eggplant (sliced, covered with salt, and left to stand for about a half hour before using) [spice with oregano or rosemary]
- cherry tomatoes (a lovely visual addition great with bowtie pasta)
I am mixing the steps for preparing the sauce with the steps for preparing the pasta itself, as these should be done simultaneously.
- Fill a pot with water, cover, and heat on high.
- Chop the garlic (not too fine, or it will burn quickly).
- Add garlic to large, wide pan with about three teaspoons of olive oil.
- Turn heat to medium/medium-low.
- Chop the onions roughly.
- Once the garlic has become fragrant, but before it begins to burn, through the onions in with the garlic.
- Cook about five minutes, stirring occasionally, till the onions have become more translucent and slightly soft.
- When the water comes to a boil, add a box of pasta with a tablespoon and a half of salt.
- Roughly chop the tomatoes and add them to the saucepan.
- Continue cooking until most of the water is out of the tomatoes, but do not let the sauce get too thick or dry. It should have a slightly runny consistency.
- After five minutes, check the pasta every minute or so until it is al dente.
- Remove the pasta from heat, strain and rinse with warm water (do not use cold water and cool down the pasta).
- Add 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper and half a teaspoon of pepperoncino and salt to taste.
- Mix the pasta into the saucepan with the sauce until pasta is completely coated.
- Spinkle with cheese and serve piping hot!