Thought it would be good to start with something of my own devising. It's a bit of a mediterreanian mish-mash, because at the time I first slung it together that's the kind of thing I had in the fridge, but its no less yummy for that. It's pretty typical of what I cook during the week because it doesn't take that long to prepare, only needs one or two pans, doesn't really require any measuring of ingredients, and reheats well for your lunch the next day.
So then, you'll need
- some linguine, or any long thin pasta - I generally use a 500g packet for 2 to 3 people, but I'm probably a bit of a gutbag. The other quantities are keyed off this, so less pasta means less everything else.
- an onion or two
- some tomatoes, fresh or tinned, or a combination - anywhere between 500g and a kilo, or about 3 tins, or a couple of tins and some passata.
- some black olives, 20 to 30 - ones with stones in taste better, but you need to stone them before you stick them in, or you can't really chow down for fear of breaking your teeth
- some capers - the ones in vinegar or brine, not salted
- a block of feta cheese - about 250g
- Get a pan which is big enough to hold everything, preferably one with a nice thick bottom. Pop it on over a lowish heat, and stick a good slug of oil in the bottom. I use olive oil for everything, but that's because I can't be arsed to keep lots of different oils round the place.
- While the oil heats, chop the onion up nice and fine, then sling it in the pan. Cook it round slowly for a few minutes until it's gone brown and caramelly.
- Chop up the tomatoes, if they arn't already, and fling them in. If you're using fresh, then it's nicer if you skin them first (score round with a knife then cover in boiling water for 30 seconds - they'll slip right off). Add a scant teaspoon of sugar, and the same amount of salt. Give it all a stir.
- Bring the tomatoes up to the boil, then knock back to a gentle simmer. Stick a lid on the pan, because it'll spatter everywhere if you don't. Leave it cook for 10 or 15 minutes, until it's thickened up a bit. The timing isn't really critical, but do give it a few minutes to cook rather then just heat through. Give a stir now and again to make sure it doesn't stick.
- While that's going on, boil up your pasta.
- Add the olives and capers to the tomatoes. Crumble up the feta and sling that in too. Give it a good stir round, so that the cheese starts to melt into the sauce. You can add some ground pepper too if you like, or a splash of wine or balsamic vinegar.
- Drain the pasta. Tip that into the pan with the tomatoes and stir it all around so everything's really mixed up together.
- Serve up - bowls are best. Sit on sofa with feet on coffee table.
You can make this at anytime of year. In summer, if you're feeling keen you can skin some fresh tomatoes to make the sauce. In the winter, use tinned tomatoes and passata and let it simmer down for a bit longer to get a richer, heavier sauce.
None of the quantities are really critical, and you can vary them really quite wildly. Less tomato and more cheese gives quite a nice sticky finish to the pasta, while more tomato and less pasta makes a bit more soupy and leaves lots of dribbly bits you can wipe up with a bit of bread. The timings arn't really critical either, other than ensuring the pasta isn't overdone. In fact, it might be best to slightly undercook the pasta, because it'll cook on a bit more when you mix it into the sauce.