PastaAlison Lambert


PastaAlison Lambert
Mid-week and life sometimes gets a little manic, and the last thing you can be bothered to do is rustle up a "Michelin" meal.  My children love pasta in any shape, with any sauce and at any time.  I was fortunate to have worked in a pretty cool Italian restaurant (River Cafe) on my travels.  It taught me
so much about food, it ignited my passion for fine ingredients and it helped me to understand how good Italian food is and how a good plate of pasta should be.

This recipe is however not one of theirs but the ingredients are kept simple, seasonal and more importantly not mucked around with.

serves 4-6

500g vine tomatoes or 1 tin chopped tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
pinch sugar
splash red wine vinegar or balsamic
1/2 cup good quality olives, stoned and roughly chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
500g penne pasta
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a rolling boil.
Meanwhile heat a large heavy based saucepan up to medium with a generous glug of olive oil, add the garlic slivers and let cook gently until lightly golden, roughly chop the tomatoes and add juice and all. If using tinned add them along with the rosemary.  Season lightly with a little salt and pepper, a sprinkle of sugar and a splash of vinegar.  Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer (if time permitting) and cook out the sauce until a thick paste has formed.  This stage of the sauce is vital, you are not wanting an insipid watery looking sauce. It must be thick, deep red and irresistible! 
Whilst that is happening stone the olives, i use my fingers and squeeze it gently.  You can also lightly squash it on a board with a cup or something similar.  Either way be carefully of your clothes as it sprays olive juice everywhere. Add the stoned olives to the sauce and warm through.  Taste the sauce, adjust the seasoning if need be.
Cook the pasta to al dente (firm to the bite) it really does make a difference to have pasta that has texture.  I suggest following the instructions on the packet as times vary.
Once the pasta is al dente, drain immediately, reserving a little liquid just encase.  Add the pasta to the tomato and olive sauce, toss together well, if too dry add a spoon or two of the cooking liquid, a grating of Parmesan and serve.