Spaghetti, cherry tomatoes, chilli & basil 

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Serves 4

400g spaghetti
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 small red chilli, thinly sliced (seeds in)
400g fresh cherry tomatoes, halved (or a tin of cherry tomatoes)
½ bunch fresh basil
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt

Bring a saucepan of generously salted water (it should almost taste like the sea) to a rapid boil over high heat.

Add the spaghetti and cook until just al dente (5 minutes - it should be just under-cooked), then drain, reserving a couple of tablespoons of cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and chilli and fry until aromatic (about 30 seconds). Add the tomatoes and basil and increase the heat to high.

Stir to combine and cook until the tomatoes release their juice (2-3 minutes). Add the cooked spaghetti and reserved cooking liquid and simmer until the sauce thickens (2-3 minutes). Drizzle with extra olive oil, season with salt to taste and serve.

*Note: This sauce is great on its own, or you can use it as a base to create many other tasty versions. You can mix in flaked good-quality tinned tuna or add olives, capers, anchovies and parsley in place of basil to make a Puttanesca or go to Sicily by adding raisins, pine nuts and tinned sardines.

 

Polenta with tomato sugo

Polenta.jpg

Sugo
1 clove garlic, sliced
½ medium brown onion, diced
½ bunch basil, picked
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
3 x 400g tins whole tomatoes
3-4 tbsp olive oil

Polenta
1L chicken stock (milk and water also both fine)
100g coarse polenta
100g butter
210g Parmesan, grated plus a little more to serve
Salt

To make the tomato sugo, add a good slug of olive oil to a pan and place over medium heat.

Add the garlic, onion and a good pinch of salt and cook gently for 8-10 minutes. Once soft, increase the heat a little and throw in the basil (it will pop and spit so just be warned). Stir through the basil then add the chilli and tomatoes. When boiling, reduce the heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. It should thicken slightly. Check the seasoning, remove from the heat and set aside.

For the polenta, bring the stock to a rapid boil in a saucepan. ‘Rain’ the polenta in, constantly whisking to prevent lumps, allowing it to come together. As soon as it comes to a boil, turn it down as low as possible. Now take your time, letting the polenta slowly and gently tick away, even less than a simmer, long and slow giving a mix once in a while to prevent it catching on the bottom of the pot. After about 40 minutes your polenta will have thickened considerably and it’s grain will have softened. Now vigorously whisk in the butter and cheese, making it silkier. Check the seasoning.

Spoon about ½ cup polenta into bowls, sprinkle some cheese over the top then a spoon of the warm tomato sugo and repeat. Top with a little more grated cheese.

 

Barbecued corn & pecorino salad

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Serves 8-10 as a shared salad

4 corn cobs, husks and silks removed
120 gm Pecorino, plus extra to serve
1 cup loosely packed mint leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Heat your barbecue to high.
Lightly brush the corn with olive oil and scatter with sea salt.

Barbecue the corn, turning occasionally, until lightly charred (15-20 minutes). You'll have some black, brown and yellow kernels. Set aside until cool enough to handle then cut the kernels from cobs.

Place the corn in a bowl, then finely grate Pecorino over the top.

Add a dash of olive oil, a good grind of black pepper, a pinch of salt and mix well, then add most of the mint and toss to combine.

Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Spread the corn on a serving plate, top with the remaining mint, another grating of Pecorino, drizzle with olive oil and serve.