This is one of those recipes that everyone should have in their arsenal, ready to unleash at a moment's notice, like a ninja.
If you want, you can use fresh basil rather than dried for this recipe; if so, rip it up roughly and chuck it in towards the end as it's quite delicate. Dried is fine, however, and this recipe is predicated on the assumption that you've just got in from work, your boss may have been sexually harassing you, and you just want to throw something together with what's in your cupboard. Buy good quality spaghetti - it's still pretty cheap and you get a much better flavour and texture for just a few more pence per meal, whereas crap pasta loses its bite and releases all of its starch into the water to make it look like your saucepan has rabies. I've also used tinned tomatoes as they are the better option for those of us who don't live in the Med.
Although this recipe is very quick and easy (it takes about ten minutes), use it as an opportunity to get the small things right e.g. pan temperature control and seasoning. If you want to elaborate on this recipe, try adding chilli, capers and/or anchovy fillets.
Ingredients (to serve one):
- 100g good quality dried spaghetti
- 10g salt
- 1 litre water (1 litre of water per 100g pasta is the proper ratio)
- Half a red onion
- Half a tin of Italian chopped tomatoes
- 1 garlic clove
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp dried basil or oregano
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Freshly grated Parmesan, to serve
- Get your pan up to a medium heat and put the water on to boil in a separate saucepan (well, duh) with a bit of salt.
- Finely dice your onion. Add the oil to the pan and gently saute the onions until they're soft and starting to go transluscent.
- At this point the water will probably be at a rolling boil, so chuck in your spaghetti so that it's all submerged and doesn't stick. Bring it back up to the boil for six minutes (no, I don't care what your packet instructions say).
- The onions are probably done by now, so throw in the garlic, herbs and seasoning. When it's fragrant, throw in the tomatoes and ramp up the heat. Break the tomatoes up so that your sauce doesn't go too lumpy.
- When the spaghetti is done, add a little splash of the water to the sauce to help loosen it up a bit, drain it, then add it to the pan and stir it in well for about two minutes, making sure you get a nice coat of sauce all over.
- Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.