Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Puttanesca is a perfectly balanced tomato sauce, spicy and creamy, mellow yet intense, with fleshy nuggets of chewy black olive. It can be made with fresh or canned tomatoes, this is a lockdown version made with chopped canned tomatoes. In an ideal world do not use canned tomatoes flavoured with herbs; just plain. Puttanesca is a favourite partner to spaghetti and when I made it during my Llanveynoe Lockdown (all about that coming soon), it was served with roast guinea fowl for a slap up feast. The white wine cooking juices stirred into the pasta with masses of chives and a knob of butter were almost the best part of the meal. It made a lovely change from roast potatoes and bread sauce.

Serves 4

Prep: 15 min

Cook: 30 min

1 large red onion

2 garlic cloves

pat of butter

2 tbsp olive oil

generous splash balsamic vinegar

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes

½ tsp chilli flakes

20 pitted black olives

chopped chives, basil or flat leaf parsley

Halve, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Melt the butter in the olive oil in a spacious, lidded pan and stir in onion and garlic. Cook steadily, stirring regularly so the onion melts and softens, colours slightly but doesn’t crisp. Add a generous splash of balsamic vinegar if you have some, then the chopped tomatoes and chilli flakes. Simmer steadily, stirring often, for about 15 minutes until thick and luscious but juicy and not dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper, maybe sugar or honey too if it seems tart. While it cooks, halve the olives round their middles. Add olives for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Stir in chives, basil or flat leaf parsley just before serving if you have some.