I have been on a recovery journey of the past few weeks (will spare you the details), but as a result, it meant I got to spend 5 days at my Nonna’s house having her look after me (no matter your age you are always a child with a grandparent). She ensured I was eating properly throughout the day, cooking fresh, healthy and vitamin-rich food at every meal.
You don’t realise how important food is when it comes to recovery, just ensuring you are keeping your energy levels high and helping your body through the difficult times. It meant that I wasn’t really paying attention to calories, macros and all that jazz. I ate when I needed to eat, and although I found it difficult to eat 2 courses at some meal times, there were other days where I just found I was ravenous and would go back for seconds and didn’t feel guilty about it as clearly it was what my body needed.
So, I want to share with you as best as I can, one of the recipes my Nonna conjured up during my stay. It was fascinating to watch this from start to finish as these days, it’s all done behind the scenes and I usually arrive and everything is already prepped and good to go.
This sugo is something that anyone can wizz up even on a week night. It’s light, fresh and simply delicious. The only issue I have is that Nonna doesn’t measure anything – it’s all done ad occhio – i.e. She guesses by what she sees in front of her…so essentially, the ingredients are my own judgement from what I saw, and may need tweaking depending on the tomatoes and your taste buds.
What I noticed here is that she also used 2 kinds of olive oil, mild and extra virgin – she explained that although you shouldn’t really cook with extra virgin, in this instance, adding a little to the mild olive oil add extra flavour to this kind of sauce as it isn’t being cooked for very long. I have put a rough estimate of the amount she used, but in the pan there was maybe an inch or so of oil in total.
Another important factor here is the sweetness of the tomatoes – my Nonna used tomatoes that were maybe 3 weeks old and were still in perfect condition, they were super sweet so she didn’t need to add any sugar to her sauce, but, I would advise giving your tomatoes a taste before you start to see how they are, and if they are bitter, just add some sugar to balance out the acidity.
You will also see that the sauce is more a light red colour rather than that strong red sauce you normally see – this is due to the lack of tomato puree and passata which you really need to leave to cook for a little longer.
So, here it is – if you give it a go, let me know how it turns out!
Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes Total time: 30 minutes
Ingredients 500g Cherry Tomatoes, squeezed slightly 100ml Olive Oil 50ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil ½ Red Onion, sliced 2-3 Garlic Cloves, crushed Handful Fresh Basil, approx. 10-12 leaves Salt & Pepper, to taste Dried Red Chilli, optional Sugar, optional
Pour both oils into a saucepan and heat slowly, be careful that it doesn’t get too hot and burn.
Add garlic, onion and if using, chilli and let it sizzle, again watch it doesn’t burn
After a few minutes, throw in the squeezed tomatoes, turn down the heat slightly, add salt and pepper and stir.
Every few minutes, you need to slowly crush the tomatoes with a potato masher so they realise the juices.
After about 5 minutes, throw in the fresh basil and crush again, put a lid on and keep an eye on it.
You want to keep crushing the tomatoes until they form a sauce. Once at this point, taste the sauce and if your tomatoes are a little bitter you can add a teaspoon of sugar to balance it out.
Leave to cook for around 15-20 mins whilst you cook your pasta.
Combine with the pasta and serve!