Tagliatelle, Spinach & Goat Cheese

Simple Tomato Sauce

I'm a great believer in a simple tomato sauce, but it has to be made properly. The quality of the tinned tomatoes is important, and the only way to tell the difference between good ones and great ones is to try a few varieties. I've recently come across an Italian brand called La Fiammante. Each tin contains one basil leaf to flavor the tomatoes and they taste superb. I find it's more economical to make one big batch of tomato sauce every so often - I divide it up into sandwich bags and pop them into the freezer (where they will keep for a couple of months) or into the fridge for a week.

First of all, chop 2-3 cloves of garlic and fry them gently in olive oil with either some chopped basil stalks or a good pinch of dried oregano, and a whole fresh red chili. Pierce the chili once with a knife so it doesn't explode when frying. It will give a subtle heat to the sauce. Add a couple of tins of plum tomatoes - try to get hold of the best Italian ones you can - and leave the tomatoes whole. The seeds can be a little bitter, so if you chop the tomatoes up straight away the sauce won't be as sweet as it should be. Lightly season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then gently simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the chili.

Break and mush the tomatoes up with a spoon, season the sauce really carefully with more salt & pepper, and add a tiny swig of red wine vinegar to give it a little twang. It should now be perfect!! There are so many different ways you can take this sauce forward...

Tagliatelle, Spinach & Goat Cheese

Once I've made my basic tomato sauce, this is one of my favorite ways to turn it into a desirable pasta dish. Simmer it in a large pan while you cook some tagliatelle in salted, boiling water according to the packet instructions. Just before the pasta is ready, add a large handful of spinach to the tomato sauce and check the seasoning. Drain the pasta in a colander, saving a little of the cooking water. Then toss the pasta with a little olive oil and some of the reserved water to loosen it, and pour your tomato and spinach sauce over the top. Toss again. Divide on to plates, sprinkle over some grated Parmesan and crumble over some goat cheese. You can also try using crumbled feta or ricotta - you'll love it.