Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Recipe for a cold evening when you're very hungry and want something really tasty.

Had some tomato sauce left over. What to do with it?

I turned it into this provencale thing that I had adapted from a pasta sauce at a cafe I used to frequent years ago - Baker's in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy - long gone now.

It was sensational. The original, I mean, not my adaptation. Well, the adaptation is good too. I've done it countless times, sometimes with variations.

Toss a handful of walnuts into a heavy pan to brown very, very lightly in olive oil - under a minute. Add a scored clove of garlic, half a chopped onion, half a chopped red or green bell pepper (capsicum), a handful of pitted black olives, about a litre of tomato sauce (or equivalent amount of canned chopped tomatoes in their juice), a generous glug of white wine, a few chopped button mushrooms, some chopped parsley and a little chopped chili (the chili is optional).

Bubble it away until it is of a good sauce consistency, adjusting with more wine or water.

This sauce is one of those dishes that works really well without the need for perfectly exact measures (just like many of my recipes!). The olives and walnuts give it a robust flavour and texture, and it's always better the next day as those flavours permeate through the sauce.

It's superb on pasta (as a 'lumpy' sauce, it's better with spirals, rigatoni, gnocchi or similar rather than spaghetti - toss over plenty of grated parmesan) but also on couscous or with chicken.

What do you drink with it? Any robust red or white wine, the flavours will overpower anything too light. Or have a nice cold beer, especially if you go with the chili option.

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