This classic Italian pasta dish of fettuccine with Napoletana sauce is confirmation that the simple things in life are often the best (and even better if you know a few tricks!). In this recipe, Maurizio Esposito shaves his garlic into very thin discs using a mandolin slicer, prefers shallots to onions for their sweetness, mashes up the best-quality Italian tinned tomatoes with his hands, and tears the basil, adding it last so it stays fresh and green.
- 100 ml olive oil, plus extra, for drizzling
- 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 2 French shallots, finely diced
- 800 g tin whole Italian tomatoes
- 500 g fettuccine
- 6 large basil leaves
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat and add the garlic and shallots. Fry briefly and in the meantime, empty the tomatoes into a bowl and crush them with your hands. Add to the pan and simmer for 10–15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to the packet instructions, then drain and return to the pot. Pour half the sauce over the pasta and fold through, adding more sauce if needed, but be careful not to add too much. The sauce should just coat the pasta.
Tear the basil leaves into the pasta, season to taste, drizzle with a little more olive oil and lightly toss again.