Tagliatelle with the Greatest Ever Tomato Sauce
This dish combines a great sauce packed full of nutritious vegetables with tagliatelle.
2 small onions
1 small leek
2 sticks of celery
2 red bell peppers
2 fresh bay leaves
1 small butternut squash
4 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g fresh tagliatelle
fresh Parmesan cheese
optional: 225g of asparagus stalks
optional: small bunch fresh basil
1. Start by prepping your veg: peel the onions, trim your leeks and celery, halve then seed the bell peppers, then roughly chop everything. Use the coarse side of a box grater to grate the zucchini and carrots.
2. Put a large saucepan (big enough to hold all the ingredients) over a medium heat and let it heat up. Add a good lug of olive oil to the pan, followed by all your chopped and grated veg. Add a large pinch of dried oregano and 2 fresh bay leaves then cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes with the lid on, or until the vegetables are nice and soft but not starting to brown or color.
3. Meanwhile, peel the butternut squash. Carefully cut it in half lengthways then scoop out all of the seeds and coarsely grate the flesh into the pan of vegetables.
4. Add the tins of plum tomatoes, 2 cups of water and a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is soft.
5. Take the pan off the heat and spoon out the bay leaves. Let the sauce cool slightly before blitzing with a hand-held blender, until nice and smooth (you can also do this in a blender or food processor, just make sure the lid is on properly before you start blitzing, and whizz up in batches if need be). Have a taste then either use right away, or leave to cool then portion up for storage.
To turn that delicious sauce into a lovely asparagus tagliatelle for 6:
6. Cook the tagliatelle in a large pan of salted boiling water according to the packet instructions.
7. Meanwhile, heat a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Pour 4¼ cups of your amazing homemade tomato sauce into the pan and let it heat up for a few minutes while you snap the woody ends off your asparagus stalks and throw them away. Slice the asparagus stalks finely with a knife (or use a food processor), leaving the tips whole.
8. Add the sliced asparagus and the tips to the sauce, let it simmer for 1 minute or so, then take it off the heat. Stir through a few fresh basil leaves, if you like.
9. By now your pasta should be cooked. Save a cupful or so of that starchy cooking water before draining the pasta in a colander in the sink.
10. Quickly add the tagliatelle to your sauce and gently toss together, adding a splash or two of that pasta water to loosen the sauce if needed. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a fresh grating of Parmesan cheese.
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