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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spaghetti Alla Marinara

Recent showers have cooled down Bangalore and given a respite from the sweltering afternoons. And it has also given me the chance to indulge in some of my favorite dishes which I had given up as I did not feel like spending time in the kitchen.

Spaghetti Alla Marinara is an Italian style tomato sauce which makes use of tomatoes, onions, garlic and some herbs like oregano, basil and parsley. It is mostly used in combination with seafood and pasta. Literally it means 'Mariner's spaghetti but the original recipe had nothing to do with seafood. It was just a dry preparation which relied heavily on the acidity of the tomatoes to preserve the dish for a few days while the menfolk were at sea. It also uses wine (which is also a preservative) to add some sweetness to the dish. Quite easy but requires about 15-20 mins of cooking to get the sauce right. Choosing the right vessel is also important for this dish. Use a thick bottomed skillet/frying pan instead of a saucepan while cooking the sauce.

One of the simplest paste sauces I have ever come across, this makes me wonder why people believe in drowning their paste by adding so much cheese and cream. Read on for the yummy recipe:

Preparation Time - 25 mins

Ingredients -

  • 100 gm spaghetti
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes (blanched)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste (one can use a little ketchup instead)
  • 2 tbsp+1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sized red onion (chopped into small thin pieces but i left them long)
  • 3-4 garlic flakes (chopped or crushed)
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • a few fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar (optional)
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Crush the tomatoes.

Cooking - Heat a skillet or frying pan. Add 1 tbsp olive oil. When the oil is warm, add the garlic. Fry till it turns light brown.

Add the crushed tomatoes along with the dried herbs and chilli flakes. Add salt.

In a separate pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the onions and fry till translucent. Add the fried onions to the skillet/frying pan containing the tomatoes. Cook the sauce on medium heat.

Boil water in a large saucepan. Once the bubbles start showing, add salt generously. As soon as it gets to a rolling boil, add the spaghetti.

Boil for 12-13 minutes till al-dente. Drain excess water. Add 1 tsp of olive oil, toss gently and keep aside.

By this time, the sauce would be ready. Stir in the white wine vinegar. (If you find it too dry add some hot water by the teaspoon. If it is too watery turn up the heat for 2-3 minutes.)

Transfer the pasta to a plate/dish. Put some sauce over it and dig it . (No fancy plating/garnishing required for this recipe. Just plain old good food.)

Note - Normally the tomatoes are peeled and pureed after blanching to get a smooth paste. But as I like the coarse texture of this sauce, I have omitted this step.

One can also add some sauteed prawns/octopus/squid to this recipe if you prefer seafood pasta.


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