Here’s a meal you can whip up in a flash.
300g (about 10 ounces) or 10-12 medium-sized vine-ripened tomatoes 100ml (3½ fluid ounces)extra virgin olive oil 2 Tbsp capers, drained, patted dry and chopped ⅓ cup black olives, pitted and chopped 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced ½-1 tsp chilli flakes Finely grated zest 1 lemon 400g (14 ounces) spaghetti Salt Small handful basil leaves Large handful small rocket leaves (arugula), trimmed (optional) Freshly grated parmesan cheese for serving
1 Plunge the tomatoes into a saucepan of gently boiling water and count to 15. Drain, then transfer tomatoes to a bowl of very cold water. Peel.
2 Prepare all ingredients, putting oil, capers, olives, garlic, chilli flakes and lemon zest in a large frying pan (skillet). Halve tomatoes and put in the pan cut side down.
3 Cook pasta in plenty of gently boiling well-salted water until al dente.
4 Immediately pasta goes on to cook, put frying pan over a medium heat. Salt tomatoes lightly, and cook gently, carefully pushing on them with a fork to squash them a little. Once tomatoes start to collapse a little, turn off the heat.
5 Drain pasta, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking water, and transfer to a large heated bowl. Pour the contents of the pan over the pasta, scraper in all the oily seasonings. Add basil and toss together, then toss through rocket, if using. Serve immediately with parmesan cheese.
If it’s winter where you are and tomatoes are expensive, can you use canned tomatoes? Yes, but only a certain type: canned cherry tomatoes. Canned cherry tomatoes are skinned (essential), and they’re small and tender, so don’t need to be squished, but they do have a lot of tomato juice with them, which you don’t want. Remove about ¾ of a cup of cherry tomatoes from a can using a slotted spoon. Drain biefly in the spoon, then use them in the recipe as described. Your sauce may be slightly more pinky-red, but it’ll still be good. Use remainingtomatoes and juice in a sauce. I like the brand Mutti.