If you're running on empty, make like an Italian lady of the night and whip up Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi's energy-boosting Tart’s Spaghetti.
Pasta is the world’s favourite food. It’s official – a study on global trends says so. Who are we too argue? Bring on the carbs and break free from the mid-week monotony of bolognaise, lasagne and carbonara, Italian food royalty, Giancarlo and Katie Caldesi – owners of the Caldesi restaurants in Bray, London and Gerrards Cross – have written a cookbook (their 11th, no less) dedicated to pasta, sauces and speedy suppers that’ll get your 5-a-day in you without even noticing. The Long And The Short Of Pasta has loads and loads of simple but utterly delicious recipes, with handy tips and tricks on how to cook and serve pasta, adding herbs and seasoning and so much more. Basically, this book with become your kitchen bestie.
Word to the wise: pasta must always be cooked in the biggest pot you own, the water should be as salty as the sea, never add oil to the water, never rinse it after cooking, and add the pasta to your sauce (not then other way round). There are many more nuggets of cooking gold, but we’re all starving. As Giancarlo says: “Pasta waits for no man” Or woman. So let’s get on with the cooking, shall we?
Tart’s Spaghetti (Puttanesca)
I’m always flagging a little by the time I start cooking dinner for the hungry hoard, so a dish using store cupboard ingredients, and was historically eaten by prostitutes (saucy by name, saucy boy nature) to give them an energy boost for a long night ahead, gets my vote. Traditionally it is made with canned tomatoes, but Katie and Giancarlo have used fresh cherry tomatoes instead. It’s punchy, spicy and and ready in minutes.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, lightly crushed
1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
2 heaped tablespoons black olives, pitted and halved
1 heaped tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed if salted
6 anchovy fillets
large handful of parsley, finely chopped
350 g (12 oz) cherry tomatoes, quartered
salt, if necessary
350 g (12 oz) spaghetti, to serve
Make sure you have all the ingredients to hand and then cook the pasta in a large pan of well-salted boiling water.
1/ Heat the oil in a large frying pan
2/ Fry the garlic and chilli, followed by the olives, capers and anchovies.
3/ Stir frequently to break up the anchovies.
4/ Add the parsley and stir through
5/ After 2 minutes, add the tomatoes. Taste the sauce and season if necessary.
6/ Cook for another couple of minutes.
7/ When the pasta is ready, use tongs to lift it from the saucepan directly into the frying pan, along with a tablespoon of cooking water to lengthen the sauce.
NOTE: Use tinned tomatoes instead of fresh, and instead of the anchovies, gently stir through good-quality tinned tuna at the last minute.
Fancy learning how to make authentic Italian food, sign up for Caldesi Cookery School.
Or simply book up and let the pros show you how it is done. I’ve eaten at Caldesi in Campagna and the food is to die for.