Italy: Fettucine Napoletana

Fettucine Napoletana

In my many years of cooking basic tomato pasta sauces, I confess to having become a bit lazy. On a week night, with not much energy, opening a can of tomatoes, mincing some garlic, maybe throwing in some basil, well it can all get a bit sloppy, a bit under-thought. Sometimes I cook the sauce for so long it becomes a bit dry. Sometimes it gets a bit busy and I add way too many ingredients in a bit of a slap dash way and the balance isn’t right.

Sometimes it pays to go back to basics, which was why I was excited about this most simple of pasta dishes. Fettucine Napoletana. It made the perfect Friday night dinner, paired with a glass of wine and a bit of winter cosiness.

One of the nicest tricks in this version is the shaved garlic. When I’m feeling lazy, I just chop garlic roughly; I rather liked the idea that I had to get out my seldom used mandolin for this. Look how lovely and pink my garlic is!

Pink Garlic

I shaved it nice and thin and was pleased with the result. Into the pan it went with some thinly sliced shallots, which was another great part of this version. Normally I use onions in a pasta sauce but this was so much better – the delicate, sweet little shallots didn’t overwhelm the dish at all.


Now the recipe also says to use an 800g tin of tomatoes and to mash them up with your hands. Seriously, i would have, except I had two perfectly good tins of diced tomatoes. No hand-mashing required.

The sauce was done in about 15 minutes, which really went against my usual instinct with pasta sauce. I do think there’s a place for a  nice, slow cooked tomato sauce, but with this dish, less was more and the result was fresh, light and tasty. Although, I’d probably reduce the 100ml of olive oil at the start.

Fettucine Napoletana

And in a fit of total Friday night indulgence, I served up Stephanie Alexander’s Sticky Toffee Pudding – choc full of dates and with a caramel sauce so rich and full of butter that the merest swipe of it across the pudding was ample sufficiency!

Sticky Toffee Pudding

If you have a copy of Stephanie’s A Cook’s Companion, make this pudding. Thanks to DrK for the recommendation!



6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. David Hilyard
    May 29, 2010 @ 21:41:57

    Look – you got the sense of this just right. After a while it is easy to get a bit complacent with stock recipes. And something like napoletana is so forgiving. But it’s good to take a break and rethink it. And a lighter fresher sauce is great. Good work!


  2. Rose Red
    May 30, 2010 @ 09:17:24

    I can’t believe I haven’t made that S. Alexander pudding. I think I must!


  3. drkknits
    May 30, 2010 @ 09:46:54

    great photos bells! i love a good made from scratch tomato sauce, its often the simple things we forget about? and how quick, and fantastic, is that pudding?!


  4. Delly
    May 30, 2010 @ 15:02:36

    This looks great Bells. I made it last night (but didn’t photograph it knmwoing you were going to post about it). It was lovely and fresh.

    You’re so right about sometimes just throwing the sauce together and being a bit “how’s your father” about it. A good reminder to all, that it’s totally worth stopping and thinking about these things from time to time.

    And I kknow a certain husband who would love it if i make Stephanie’s Sticky Date. I can’t believe I haven’t made it yet.

    Well done!


  5. Susan L
    May 30, 2010 @ 19:26:44

    Yum. Your photos are as delish as the food.


  6. David Hilyard
    Jul 01, 2010 @ 13:25:06

    I was in search of comfort food last night. Cold, tired, half way through a long working week. And pasta with a red sauce has always been my comfort food du choix. So, instead of just slapping it together, as is my wont, and inspired by your comments, I follwed the Food Safari recipe.

    I totally endorse your comments. It was good to stop, rethink, and slim down. No added bay leaf, thyme, balsamic vinegar; cooked quick, retaining a fresh, purely TOMATO flavour. A delicious dinner to accompany Spicks and Specks!

    I also thought the ammount of oil was over the top. I would normally use subnstantailly less. But it did emulsify with the tomatoes and wasn’t a pool.

    This business of following recipes is a strange new gig …


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