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Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Garlic and Chilli

ingredients

12 oz (320 g) spaghetti
4 large ripe tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed but still whole
1 dried chilli pepper (optional)
1 large sprig basil
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
grated Parmesan cheese
salt and black peppercorns

method

1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil ready to cook the spaghetti.

2. Blanch and peel the tomatoes; cut them in quarters and remove the seeds. If you cannot buy ripe, flavoursome tomatoes, use 8 - 10 tinned, drained Italian tomatoes.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and fry the garlic cloves gently until they are pale golden brown; crumble the chilli pepper into the pan, stir and then add the tomatoes, a pinch of salt and 2 basil leaves.

4. Cook, uncovered, over a high heat for 5 minutes, stirring a few times. Remove from the heat. Tear the rest of the basil into small pieces.

5. Cook the spaghetti in the boiling salted water until just tender but with plenty of bite left in them; drain, add to the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute, stirring.

6. Turn off the heat, stir in the Parmesan cheese, plenty of freshly ground pepper and the basil.

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