Puttanesca – true love, QHM #3 and another great supermarket chique item

 This sauce is as reliable as the profession it’s named after. Here, I’ll show you the easy and wonderful way to a sauce you can use as a dip, a pasta sauce, and a spectacular variation for a lasagne with understated class.

 The Camel’s really fussy about his tomatoes. Sure I love the organic Italian ones, but those food miles! There’s enough desert on the planet as it is…so let’s buy local…especially when it’s great.

There are varieties in this range, but you can’t  go past the one with tomato paste and roast capsicum…it’s a great base for many things.

Can’t get them? Use normal tinned tomatoes and add a dollop (dessert spoon round) of tomato paste, and puréed roast red capsicum.

I had guests coming over, and had made a couple of dips, but decided I needed a third.

To 1 tin of these tomatoes I added 10 anchovies (in a little of the oil they came with), 1Tb roast garlic puree (or 1/2Tb fresh very finely chopped) 1-2Tb capers, and chilli to taste…stick blender (or food processor) til totally smooth and presto…now add olives in any way you prefer…with/out pits whole, without pits and into the sauce, quick blend so they’re still chunky (but not totally blended or you’ll spoil the colour). Of course, you can just hand chop all the other bits if you like the sauce with definable ingredients.

Of the three dips I presented, this one went the fastest, by a mile.

Next it was pasta’s turn. Both majors have a good organic pasta. There’s no way around the import here. This pasta has the wonderful coarse edge that sauces love, and cooks perfectly. It leaves a starchy water that you should always throw a few tablespoons of into your sauce. It will add a lovely sheen to the final dish (thanks Jamie Oliver for that tip!). Not always traditional to serve with parmesan, but it does add a great complexity.

Finally, lasagne. Use this instead of meat sauce, and for your white sauce layers, make sure they have some spinach (cooked before it goes into the white sauce) and parmesan.  White sauce is simply some sautéed onions and garlic, with a tsp of plain flour per 200ml milk thrown into the onion sauté after 5 minutes. Sauté the flour & onion mix for 1 more minute before slowly adding the milk. You can use skim if you’re trying to keep the fat down, but the parmesan is a must. About 20g/100ml milk.

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