a bunch of fresh basil
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 kg ripe tomatoes, or 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
500 g dried spaghetti
15 g parmesan cheese
Once you've made this a few times you can add other simple ingredients, such as baby spinach, chopped rocket leaves, or fresh or frozen peas, to your basic tomato sauce to completely transform it.
1. Pick the basil leaves onto a chopping board (reserving a few baby leaves to garnish), then roughly chop the remaining leaves and finely chop the stalks.
2. Peel and finely slice the onion and garlic. If using fresh, cut the tomatoes in half, then roughly chop them or carefully open the tins of tomatoes.
3. Put a saucepan on a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the onion, then cook for around 7 minutes, or until soft and lightly golden.
4. Stir in the garlic and basil stalks for a few minutes, then add the fresh or tinned tomatoes and the vinegar.
5. Season with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper, then continue cooking for around 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Stir in the chopped basil leaves, then reduce to low and leave to tick away. Meanwhile…
7. Carefully fill a large pot three-quarters of the way up with boiling water, add a tiny pinch of salt and bring back to the boil.
8. Add the spaghetti and cook according to packet instructions – you want to cook your pasta until it is al dente. This translates as 'to the tooth' and means that it should be soft enough to eat, but still have a bit of a bite and firmness to it. Use the timings on the packet instructions as a guide, but try some just before the time is up to make sure it's perfectly cooked.
9. Once the pasta is done, ladle out and reserve a cup of the cooking water and keep it to one side, then drain in a colander over the sink and tip the spaghetti back into the pot.
10. Stir the spaghetti into the sauce, adding a splash of the pasta water to loosen, if needed.
11. Serve with the reserved basil leaves sprinkled over the top and use a microplane to finely grate the Parmesan cheese, then sprinkle over.
Jamie's top tips: It's important to season the cooking water so that the pasta can absorb it as it cooks. Once you've made this a few times you can add other simple ingredients, such as baby spinach, chopped rocket leaves, or fresh or frozen peas, to your basic tomato sauce to completely transform it.
Reserving and adding a splash of pasta cooking water to your sauce helps to loosen it, if it's a bit thick.
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A great introduction to pasta for kids – loads of fun to eat, and a brilliant base for adding all kinds of other fresh ingredients.
BUYING SUSTAINABLY SOURCED FISH
Buying sustainably sourced fish means buying fish that has been caught without endangering the levels of fish stocks and with the protection of the environment in mind. Wild fish caught in areas where stocks are plentiful are sustainably sourced, as are farmed fish that are reared on farms proven to cause no harm to surrounding seas and shores.
When buying either wild or farmed fish, ask whether it is sustainably sourced. If you're unable to obtain this information, don't be afraid to shop elsewhere – only by shopping sustainably can we be sure that the fantastic selection of fish we enjoy today will be around for future generations.
For further information about sustainably sourced fish, please refer to the useful links below:
Marine Stewardship Council