A simple pasta dish topped with basil, which can lift any entree.
Marco Pierre White: Spaghetti alla Sorrentina
You may remember last week I was all about luxury, opulence and gorgeousness? Well, this week I am expounding on the simple things in life. This recipe could not be easier. I expect my cat could make it, if I had a cat.
The loyal readers among you will recognise my old favourite buffalo mozzarella, not the easiest thing to find in Abu Dhabi, but it is becoming more readily available. By the way, my spies tell me the best place to buy Parmesan cheese (and call me a snob, but it needs to be parmigiano reggiano) is at Carrefour. It sells big vacuum-packed blocks of the stuff for a reasonable price - well, reasonable for the UAE anyway. Trust the French to come up trumps when it comes to cheese, even if it's Italian cheese. I love handling cheese, especially mozzarella. There is something so sensuous about it. Here you need to squeeze it to get rid of the excess water.
Although this recipe doesn't call for Parmesan, I am a bit of a cheese junkie, so would probably add some at the end. I feel pasta isn't complete without a sprinkling of the old parmigiano, rather like a coffee without a spoonful of sugar, or a Chelsea match without a goal from Frank Lampard.
Talking of Chelsea - and I do, a lot - if you are ever down in that neck of the woods be sure to visit my restaurant that I co-run with the club's owner, Roman Abramovich.
As with all my recipes, use the best ingredients you can find, from the basil to the tomatoes to the sauce and the pasta. One of my teachers once told me that you're better off with dry pasta made in Italy than fresh pasta made anywhere else. Everyone has a favourite brand. Of the ones available in the UAE, I think De Cecco is the best.
Basil is one of those things I like to always have around. It can spruce up so many dishes. The other day I made a noodle soup and threw some torn-up basil leaves on top - they really lifted it.
The tomatoes are key here and it is a bit fiddly cutting them into quarters, but it is worth it, and I'm not demanding you peel them. I hate peeling tomatoes, such another fiddly job. But if you're up for it, the best way is to slice the skin, top and bottom, before plunging them into boiling water. Have a bowl of cold water handy to put them into as soon as you see the skin starting to peel, because you don't want to cook them. Then the skin should peel off easily. I'm full of good advice today, aren't I?
Enjoy the pasta and my advice, which doesn't normally come cheap, so count yourself lucky.
This dish is offered at Frankie's Restaurant & Bar, which features Friday Brunch alongside CuiScene restaurant. Call 02 654 3238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
MAKE IT YOURSELF
Spaghetti alla Sorrentina
640g dry spaghetti pasta
200ml extra virgin olive oil
30 cherry tomatoes, quartered
400ml tomato sauce
240g buffalo mozzarella, squeezed and shredded
Handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
1. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the instructions on the packet and then drain.
2. Heat 100ml of the olive oil in a sauce pan, add the quartered cherry tomatoes and sauté gently for about a minute, then add the tomato sauce and bring to the boil.
3. Mix the spaghetti, remaining olive oil, mozzarella and sauce, and serve in warmed bowls, topped with basil leaves.