Emily picked this recipe up from her days as a nipper in Naples, one of those 'gran segreti dalla nonna' that no-one who'd tried it would dare forget. We ate the sauce - fat ripe tomatoes simmered down into a rich, sticky, and oily passata - tossed through beautifully formed Umbrian pasta and mopped up the remainder with hunks of bread.
REAL ITALIAN TOMATO SAUCE
with flat pasta
250ml extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
15 very ripe, fresh plum tomatoes, peeled and left whole
handful basil leaves, torn
salt and pepper to taste
large jug water
700g good quality pasta - this sauce works particularly well with flat or tubed pasta.
Parmesan to serve
Gently warm the oil in a large saucepan and add the garlic to infuse. Leave it to soak up the flavour for 3 minutes, without burning the garlic. Add the peeled tomatoes and basil to the pan, season, and leave to simmer over a low heat with the lid on. After about an hour the juice of the tomatoes will have thickened. Add a generous splash of water and leave to reduce for another 45 minutes. You want to cook down the tomatoes for a total of three hours to get the maximum flavour, so every time the sauce thickens add a little more water - you may only need to do this once more but keep an eye. As you reach serving time, make sure the sauce is thick enough to coat the pasta and is not watery. If in doubt, simmer a bit longer without adding more water. Taste for seasoning.
Bring an extra large pan or two medium sized pans of salted water to the boil and add the pasta. Cook as the packet suggests, and drain when al dente.
Transfer the pasta into the tomato pan and mix through evenly adding a little sprinkling of salt. Pour the pasta into a big serving dish and take to the table. Divide into smaller bowls and scatter with Parmesan.