Saturday, 14 April 2012

easy on the sauce!!

I've been told by the Italians who have had the pleasure to sample the 'delights' (yes, the inverted commas are needed here) of the UK's take on Italian food, that we 'over-sauce' our pasta dishes. We have pasta SWIMMING in sauce. Positively drowning in it. And I must admit, I tend to agree with their opinion. Sometimes less IS more. There's nothing worse than having to actually search for the pasta on your plate. And so, in my own 'cooking' (inverted commas definitely required here), I have attempted to reduce my need to over-sauce things. After much observation and sampling of various pasta dishes (much more sampling than observation if I'm honest), I am now able to put together something simple and pasta-like. All. By. Myself. I thought I would share my recipe with you. And I consulted with an ACTUAL Italian whilst putting this together. It's wonderfully simple. So, here goes! You will need: 
 The pasta that works best with this is orecchiette, which is a pasta specific to my region. It translates as 'little ears', and is absolutely delicious, especially when fresh (hence why I have scribbled 'fresh' on my little blackboard). 
'Little ears' (image from

Take a medium sized pan and add a lovely glob (yes, this is an official measurement, I'll have you know) of oil. Pop in the garlic (leave it whole or cut in two- don't chop it up) and then add the pancetta. I use the smoked kind as it has more taste to it. Chop your baby tomatoes into quarters and throw them in the pan too (literally, throw them. You aren't cooking anything unless you make SOME mess). I like to add some oregano too, and a bit of basil, but don't worry if you don't have these. It tastes lovely even without. Let this heat up nicely. I like to start squishing the tomatoes with a fork too, to make more of a 'sauce'. You don't have to do this, but I would  recommend it as it's quite enjoyable. But watch they don't squirt tomato juice all over your clothes (yes, it HAS happened to me). Tomatoes and oil are exquisite in this region but my WORD they are a hazard when cooking/eating them. (TIP: bicarbonate of soda removes oil stains. Chuck a load over the stain and the powder draws out the oil. I have used it more times than I can count.) 

While your tomatoes and pancetta are cooking nicely (don't forget to add your salt- you need to taste  frequently and add as necessary), boil up some (salted) water and when it's bubbling furiously, add your pasta. It takes a very very short amount of time to cook the pasta if it's fresh. Make sure you taste test that too! I like the pasta to still have a bit of bite (although it does take practice. I've unfortunately served up mushy pasta more than once.) Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the pan. Mix together (don't forget to remove your garlic clove- might not be a pleasant surprise mid-chew!) and put into bowls. Forks only- knives are not invited to this pasta party. There's only one more thing: don't forget to say buon appetito before you eat!


  1. Yum yum! If only Japan had fresh pasta and not only dried spaghetti... and... tomatoes that weren't so expensive that they make me weep. I fear this side of the globe, this might be strictly a summer extravagance.

  2. That's such a shame! The tomatoes here really are so, so good! But never mind, summer isn't TOO far away- then you can squish up as many tomatoes as you like ;)

    1. I will squish with extravagance, you can bet on that. Actually, Italian food here is more 'Italian'y than in the UK, With the exception of the bistro I went to today where they screwed up a basic tomato sauce above. Was tempted to translate this and leave it on the table >D