HOT-WEATHER PASTA PUTTANESCA
When the weather is hot we want quick every-day meals that don't skimp on flavor. At the end of a hot day, it is great to replenish with a bit of salt and spice. Traditional Puttanesca sauce is a warm tomato sauce containing black olives, anchovies and capers. During the tomato season it is wonderful to make a raw version. It is important that the pasta is piping hot when it is stirred into the raw sauce, so the ingredients 'cook' down just enough for the tomatoes to release a bit of juice and the basil to wilt a little.
1. Fill a very large saucepan with cold water and several tablespoons of Maldon sea salt. Bring to the boil.
2. Meanwhile, halve the tomatoes and place in a large ceramic serving dish or bowl together with the tomato paste, grated garlic, sugar, salt, pepper and vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning - it should be nicely sweet/tangy.
3. Add the anchovies, and mash them up a bit by squeezing them into the sides of the bowl with a fork before mixing them into the tomatoes.
4. Roughly chop the soaked and rinsed capers and add them to the tomatoes together with the black olives.
5. Pick the basil leaves and layer 5-6 on top of each other. Roll up like a cigar, and cut into thin strips. This method is called 'chiffonade' and it is great for leafy herbs that would otherwise become mushy when chopped. Add most of them to the tomatoes, but hold back a little for decoration.
6. Cook the pasta according to the instructions - make sure it is 'al dente'.
7. Don't drain the pasta into a colander but use a pasta fork or other large fork to lift it out so that quite a bit of water clings to it. Add it to the bowl of tomatoes and stir through.
8. Wipe the sides of the bowl with kitchen paper to smarten up a bit, sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino as well as some strips of basil.
9. Serve immediately. Don't forget that the olives have stones in!
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