Chunky Pasta

A useful weeknight no-brainer, if your local supermarket is grand enough to sell bags of pre-prepped sofritto.

  • a 400g bag sofritto
  • 50g pancetta (I normally have a stash in the freezer of those useful little plastic boxes they have in supermarkets)
  • a 450g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • four cloves of garlic (or however much you like)

I know everything comes out of a packet or a tin, but that’s the beauty of it. Anyway, here goes.

  1. Fry the pancetta gently, ’til it’s dark brown and all the fat has rendered.
  2. Whilst that’s happening, peel and slice the garlic, and then add it to the pan, frying until translucent and a slightly coloured.
  3. Dump in the sofritto. There should be enough fat from the pancetta, but if not, add a splash of olive oil.
  4. A sneaky half teaspoon of sugar sprinkled over and stirred in will help the edges go brown and sticky.
  5. Fry ‘til soft – take your time – if there’s a bit of brown around the edges and a hint of stuff sticking to the bottom of pan – all the better.
  6. Dump in the tinned tomatoes, plus a teaspoon of dried oregano and half a teaspoon dried basil – if you like pepper now would be the time to add a grind, there should be enough salt in the pancetta so you shouldn’t need any more.
  7. Simmer gently for about as long as it takes to cook the pasta, which should be conchiglie, because once it’s done you’re going to vigorously stir it and the sauce together so the bits of veg and pancetta get caught up inside the shells.
  8. Pass the parmesan.

Variations

Instead of using pancetta, you could add some anchovy fillets towards the end.

A glass of red wine won’t hurt: you may even care to put a splash in the sauce.

Maybe some chopped up mushrooms just before simmering?

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