The Slattern’s pasta sauce – as they make it in North London.
I’m something of a small dust-town deity in the kitchen. Nothing that will save your life, but you will probably think of my improvised dishes once in a while, as you continue on your highway-drive through life.
This week I bring to you my slattern’s pasta – a puttanesca for the end of the week, when your cupboard is bare yet the belly needs feeding.
Half a large red onion, roughly chopped
Half a red chilli, roughly chopped
Couple of anchovies (you guessed it) roughly chopped.
Three garlic cloves, peeled but left whole.
Left over red wine
A can of chopped tomatoes (not plum) as swanky as you can afford,
Or the best part of a carton of passata (I used cheep-y stuff, and it was fine),
OR some nice fresh tomatoes, if you have extra time and only if they are ripe.
A delicate sprinkling of cinnamon
Many generous slugs of Olive oil.
As much pasta as you’re feeling.
(If you have it) a teaspoon or so of almond flour.
You might want to consider nutmug or black olives instead. See discussion at the bottom.
Sauté the onions and the garlic. For me this means: heat the olive oil until smoking, put the onions and garlic in the pan, sprinkle liberally with salt, reduce heat to low and cover with a lid. The onions need to go for a good ten-fifteen minutes, unless you like them with a bit of bite.
Step one point five. Around halfway through add the chilli, stir and cover. I like to add a bit of olive oil at the end and fire them up on hot, stirring continuously, but do not let them burn!
Add the anchovies and your choice of tomatoes to the pan. Sprinkle on the cinnamon and the almond flour. Slug on some more oil and a generous lug of the red wine, bring to the boil and then lower and allow to simmer on a low heat. As a rule, pasta sauce is done when i) you cannot distinguish ingredients any more, ii) the oil has separated from the tomatoes, iii) the pasta is done and you need to eat.
I did all of the above in under ten minutes, but she would probably be a better sauce for some extra cooking time. If the sauce is to simmer for a while – say thirty minutes- I’d put a lid on her. MAKE SURE you have flash-fried the ingredients, as per step one, before things simmer for ages, else you will end up with stew.
Re: the almond flour- this sauce doesn’t really need cheese, as it is sharp and salty. I add the cinnamon to have a bit of mellow sweet underneath, and the almond flour does a stirling job of adding a sweet depth to it. You could maybe grate on some nutmug instead. Also using canned black olives, as per the usual recipe, probably goes some way to achieving this