Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Linguine 'Mrs Ribeye'

Moderation moderation moderation.

I don't know why, but for many years I had an obsession with cooking everything either very very slowly - stews/sauces; or very very quickly - fish, roast chicken/beef/lamb. I somehow thought that all behaviour had to be polarised or it was considered dull.

This attitude towards extreme behaviour carried on into my life as a DJ (my mixing was of the 'slap it in and out' school), my social life ('live hard, work hard, party hard'), my professional life ('I haven't become a millionaire today? Boring') and my relationships ('You don't like my taste in music? Get out!').

However, as the years advanced, the yearning to become moderate has taken any of my hyperbolic emotions away from me. I now enjoy partying 'most of the night long'. I am happy in my work - whatever my financial status. My DJ'ing is smoother to listen to (and, er,  better), and my cooking is simpler, with more emphasis on  treating each recipe with individual care rather than trying to impose my blanket techniques on all my dishes. Oh and I have now learnt to bicker. I used to be fiery but as I have now hit my forties I find it far more agreeable to resolve conflicts with whinges and whines, rather than full scale war. There are less casualties.

Today's dish is a great example of how far I've come as a cook. I used to take two hours to slow cook the hell out of the ingredients to make a spaghetti sauce, until I realised that slow cooking leaves flavours dead and dull. So now, I take minutes to prepare my sauce and the results are superb. Fresh, vibrant tomatoe-y goodness, topped with a whole cubed mozzarella and enough freshly picked basil leaves to make them more of a central feature than a herby afterthought. Mrs Ribeye absolutely adores this dish and so I have named it after her.

This dish is simple, cheap and delicious. This is not, however, the reason I named it after my wife. Cost-wise, you're only looking at £2 per serving.

A quick note on the ingredients:

1. Use a LOT of garlic - this sauce is a celebration of the mighty bulb (but remember to remove the central bitter stem from each individual clove before chopping).

2. Use tinned WHOLE plum tomatoes, and then break them up later once the sauce has nearly finished cooking - the ready chopped ones emit their seeds into the sauce too early, creating bitterness.

3. Use a LOT of olive oil - the dish won't be greasy, I promise.

4. DON'T stir the mozzarella into the sauce - it's nice to have the slowly softening creamy chunks against the richness of the sauce.

5. Use LOTS of fresh basil - think of it as a salad garnish rather than a herb.

6. Use LINGUINE if you can, not spaghetti - it's somehow meatier and holds the sauce better.

Serves 2


3 cloves of garlic
3-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 x 400g tin of whole Italian tomatoes in their own juice
1 teaspoon of dried oregano, plus extra for dusting
Pinches of salt and pepper
Cooked linguine (250g uncooked weight), to serve
2 balls of mozzarella cheese, cubed
Large handful of fresh basil leaves, for sprinkling

In a pan on high heat, add the garlic and oil and gently fry until it has the merest tinge of golden colour. Add the tomatoes, oregano, seasoning and about a quarter of the tomato tin filled up with water, and cook rapidly until the sauce is thick and unctuous (20 minutes approx). Add the linguine to the sauce (not the other way around) and mix to coat thoroughly. Transfer to serving dishes and top with the mozzarella cubes and basil leaves. Lightly dust the dish with the extra oregano. Serve immediately

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