Thursday, 9 September 2010

Tomato, Butter, Onion

In a world of highly wrought, heavily styled dishes that teem with squiggles, foams and spherification, often it's quite a relief to return to simplicity. Recently some of my favourite dishes have been pared down; crisp skin, juicy pink flesh of a quail with aioli at Barrafina from just today may be one of my stand-out dishes of the year. A well-cooked steak, such a simple meal and yet so gratifying.

Pasta holds up so well to simple sauces. That tug of spaghetti on the teeth and the sauce wrapping itself seductively around the strands is irresistible, the lure of shovelling it in your gob as quickly as possible overwhelming. Simple doesn't always mean quick though; this dish, like another of my staple dishes, onion and anchovy pasta, takes a good 45 minutes to an hour.

It really couldn't be easier. For every two people take one tin of the best quality tinned tomatoes you can find and lob it in a saucepan with a healthy stick of butter and half a whole onion. Simmer merrily for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until nice and thick, remove the onion and toss it through some just-cooked spaghetti. Season with salt. Eat it.

Thanks to Smitten Kitchen for bringing this to my attention.

13 comments:

Louis said...

ooh...that'll be dinner

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Kavey said...

Fantastic... a reminder to strip it down sometimes, no garlic, no herbs, just simple simple simple.

The Grubworm said...

You're so right, both about simple dishes being the best, and also that simple doesn't always mean quick.

Saying that, two of my faves don;t take long. Linguine/Spaghetti etc with fresh tommies, lemon, basil or chilli & a good olive oil. Or basmati rice steamed with raisins, cardamom, cinnamon and maybe a little saffron.

It's great to get back to basics, it feels like it almost purifies the palate. Or something.

The Shed said...

What seductive spaghetti. I do exactly the same thing with baked beans. Add a dried chilli as well as the onion if you feel so inclined, and serve with eggs and toast.

Also along simple lines, how good is spaghetti with butter, pepper and parmesan? Childhood in a bowl.

JaneLock said...

Genius! I've always used olive oil and it never occured to me to use the onion in that way. I'm off to the tinned tomato shop forthwith.

Greedy Diva said...

I was in need of serious comfort food last night and, by coincidence, that is almost exactly what I had. I love the simplicity.

Gourmet Chick said...

Sometimes the simple things are the best

Pavel said...

Pasta + Butter + Parmesan = Simple food heaven.

I'll give this a go though!

shayma said...

i love these kind of dishes-yours looks gorgeous. i learnt how to make tomato sauce from Marcella Hazan's book- surprisingly, when i moved to Rome- butter was verboten- never saw it in the Roman kitchen. x shayma

George@CulinaryTravels said...

Sometimes the simple meals are the best.

Hengki Budi Prasetyo said...

Hemmmmmm ... a delicious tomato spaghetti. I often eat this because I like this Italian cuisine. Your spaghetti smelled until Indonesia.

JimT said...

Shayma, you're right to mention Marcella Hazan - this recipe is in her book The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I've been doing it for years (making the sauce) and it never fails.