More supermarket nonsense. I was walking down the canned fish and vegetables aisle when I noticed a huge sign which read 'New & Improved!'; the exclamation mark no doubt being thought to add enormous power to the selling proposition in the mind of the writer. Can you imagine the damage to an already trashed economy if there were no exclamation marks? I digress, but only until the aisle-end display of pallet-loads of branded cola, Australia's largest-selling supermarket item in dollar terms. Maybe the economy's not so bad if people are happy to pay money to rot their teeth and other body parts. Maybe I digressed a little further. Then I stopped dead. 'New' and 'improved'?
This was no ground-breaker, no earth-shatterer, nothing really special at all, just a pot of napoli sauce. But I never seem to get it quite right. Then again, neither do those cheap Italian places that specialise in pizza but do basic sauces for pasta that are so salty they make you wake at night and go to the kitchen to down gallons of water.
This time it turned out nice. Acid but sweet, spicy but mellow and with a touch of basil. Greek basil, which I am growing this year.
Place a tablespoon of Australian olive oil (throw out the cheap imported stuff, it's got solvents in it) in a saucepan. Chop a medium onion finely and cook it gently until it cries instead of you.
Add a scored garlic clove and continue cooking very gently for a minute or two then add a handful of chopped basil straight from the garden. I'm amazed at how basil absolutely refuses to wilt in the sun. It's an amazing plant. Cook for another minute.
Now add one tin of diced tomatoes and another tin of puree - or the same volume of passata - and a little more pepper than you would imagine. I used a flat teaspoonful of white ground pepper. Salt? About three-quarters of a teaspoonful. Quite frankly, you don't really need it.
Finally a teaspoonful of sugar to, I don't know, balance the acid or the salt, I suppose - and cook down to your preferred consistency. Add a little more olive oil if you like a more unctuous sauce. Serve sparingly on pasta. Don't drown it. It should just coat the strands.
Or you could use it a thousand other ways; dip excellent bread in it, top thin layers of eggplant, zucchini and cheese with it and bake it, colour risotto with it and add fresh prawns and cubes of swordfish. We've got all summer to think about things like this.