All of the ingredients for the tomato and pepper sauce had been picked the hour before from Rosa’s vegetable garden. The tomatoes are some of the sweetest and juiciest I’ve ever tasted. If you cannot get hold of flavoursome fresh tomatoes, use good quality tinned tomatoes instead.
For 4 people you will need
extra virgin olive oil for frying
one small onion, sliced
1/2 celery stick, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 sweet red pepper and an optional spicy pepper, thinly sliced
1 kilo of fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped
black pepper and salt
generous amounts of basil leaves
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and add the onion and celery. Fry over a moderate heat for a good 5 minutes before adding the garlic and peppers. Continue frying until the peppers are soft – about 15 minutes – and then add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, tear up the basil leaves, stir them in and cook for another 10 minutes.
For the pasta:
500g of grano duro (hard wheat) flour
a pinch of salt
How much water you’ll need to make a smooth but not sticky dough will depend on the flour you use, but start with 200 ml and add more if necessary.
Sprinkle some salt into the flour, then sift it onto a capacious wooden surface – the top of a table, if you don’t have a big enough board – and scoop it up to form a mole hill. Then form a mole hole with your fingers. Add the water and start swirling with your fingers or a fork, gradually incorporating the flour. Eventually you’ll end up with a mess. Panic not. Start kneading the dough, gathering in more flour if you need to. And just keep going – give your arms a thorough work out until you have a smooth, silky dough. Wrap it in cling film, or cover with a cloth, and leave it – you could leave it in the fridge overnight if you want.
Use a pasta mangle to roll out the dough if you wish, following its instructions. You’ll need to cut the dough up into manageable pieces – about 150 grams each. And then once you’ve got 4 or 5 strips (having used all the dough). Pile them up and cut them cross ways at 2 centimetre intervals to make the ‘sheep’s tails’ or code di pecora.
Dust them with flour and leave them to dry a little on a tray. When it comes to cooking them, get a large saucepan full of water, salt it with a tablespoon of salt and bring it to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and boil until just tender – about 4 minutes, but keep checking.
Drain and layer it with several ladlefuls of sauce in a large bowl. Serve immediately with lashings of grated pecorino or parmesan.