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sicilian pasta sauce

A handful of basil-leaves or dried basil flakes
Finely chopped garlic clove
Pinch of salt
Teaspoon of Sugar
400g peeled plum tomatoes
Extra-virgin Olive Oil
Gently brown the garlic in a tiny drop of oil in a large deep frying-pan.
(If using dried basil, brown this with the garlic simultaneously.)
Sieve the tomatoes into the pan and stir in the salt, sugar and basil (if you are using fresh basil). Bring momentarily to the boil, then reduce heat to the lowest setting. Leave to simmer until the sauce reduces to a dense cream. It should not be runny. Do not cover the pan, or the reduction process will be hindered. The lowest heat will give you the longest simmering time before the required consistency is reached, and therefore the best result. Ideally it should simmer for two or three hours, but if you’re in a hurry you can do it in as little as half an hour as a minimum, at a slightly higher heat.
Finally, stir in a generous swig of oil and cook for another minute.
To serve, pour onto boiled, drained pasta and dress with grated parmesan, pecorino or ricotta-salata cheese (which is not ricotta cheese.)

For a meat sauce, start by browning some lean minced beef in olive oil, together with finely chopped onions. Do everything else as before, but add all the olive oil at the beginning (before the first boil) instead of at the end. With both sauces you may wish to experiment with adding chillies or chilli paste in very moderate amounts, and perhaps a little mango chutney instead of the sugar, (though this latter ingredient is departing from authenticity.) If you overdo the chilli, try adding dark brown sugar to help ‘cool’ it down again. Italian sauces should not taste burning hot spicy, although he chilli does help to elevate the ‘bite’ of the garlic when used carefully.


Pasta alla norma

This is something to adorn a pasta dish made with the Sicilian sauce.
Slice two aubergines finely, salt generously, and press them overnight. (for a simple press, ‘sandwich’ the aubergines between two wooden breadboards or cutting-boards, and weight down the top board with bricks, twenty of your mum’s old vinyl LPs or the Encyclopædia Britannica.) You can get away with pressing them for only an hour or two.
Remove from press and rinse thoroughly. Fry in oil until shrunken and almost (but not quite) turning crispy. Serve on top of your pasta-in-sauce dish.


A cold Italian snack

The basic Italian antipasto (starter) also makes a great meal when you don't feel like cooking, but want to pig-out italian-style anyway:
Simply load a plate with slices of salami and fresh tomato, lumps of mozzarella cheese, artichoke heads (freely and cheaply available in tins at the supermarket), a fresh crusty loaf, and pat of good quality butter. Pour extra-virgin olive-oil generously over the lot, and enjoy! Oh, and don't forget the olives...

Pesto and Carbonara

Eat Rome Easy Cookery Introduction