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Sunday night pastacular!

I like Sunday nights. It’s that feeling of transition, that the weekend has finished and there’s nothing more to be done, so you might as well relax. That sense of handover from weekend to weekday.  I was aware of it as a child, but never really dreaded it in that stereotypical way. Now I’m a grownup, I find its vibe unique and appealing.  This Sunday night, as all the housemates asked the inevitable question “what are we doing for dinner?”, a question that works its way earlier and earlier into the day when the day is snoozy or tired — you know the household is having a rough day when we’re talking about it just after lunch — and came up with no answer, M came up with a nourishing and beautifully simple option. Hand-made pasta.

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Ball o' dough!

I’ve mentioned in the past M’s skills on the pasta-making front.  Chap can make mighty fine, tender noodles at the drop of a hat. Which is good: we were hungry and the evening was waxing late.  He starts out small, starts out simple: some well-kneaded dough, with a teaspoonful of sun-dried tomato pesto.  The dough rests while the sauce ingredients come together.  The sauce was inspired by an Anthony Bourdain video we saw on YouTube: the video itself was interesting but not groundbreaking (it was one of those “things everyone should know how to do”, and I already knew most of them), until we got to this pasta recipe. It played in my memory for some time, and apparently also in M’s. First, infusing the olive oil: oil, freshly-torn basil, whole cloves of garlic and chilli flakes. Simmer it for ages, infusing the oil with those soft, fine flavours.  Even though it’s a simmering pot of oil, it’s natural to want to drink it. But that would be dangerous. Just try and resist the impulse as best you can.  This weekend was the Anzac Day long weekend in Australia, and in our neck of the woods, this is traditionally acknowledged as the day you can start lighting fires (in the fireplace, I mean) and switch on the heater without being called a spineless jellyfish wussbag. This means, of course, that fresh basil from your own yard is little more than a fragrant dream. Supermarket basil from here on in. This pasta sauce was a rich paean to all that summer pasta was and someday, will be again. I miss it already.

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Basil! Garlic! Oil! Give me it!

Then there’s the tomato side of things: peel a whole swag of tomatoes, especially if you can get your hands on some scarlet, overripe ones. Crush the peeled tomatoes over a bowl and squeeze out the watery pulp, get as much water out as you possibly can, because it will help speed up the cooking time.  We were running a bit short of fresh tomatoes, so we ended up opening a couple of cans and pressing as much water out through a fine sieve as we could before adding.  End result: a big pot of thick, concentrated tomato richness and a big bowl of tomato juices that I went on to use in soup. Boil — not simmer, but boil; get it really hot — that concentrated tomato richness until it is really, really thick.

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Someone get a proper photographer, for Heaven's sake.

Meanwhile, get some pasta happening.  This was a deciding factor in our pasta-making: one of our housemates obtained a pasta-roller!  It was kinda cool, and produced beautifully even, thin sheets — I have to be honest, I think we can do just fine with a rolling pin and a bit of determination, as we have in the past, but I must admit that the cutter made beautiful, fine streamers.

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Slicing the pasta

The pasta rolling and slicing was the fun bit and I took lots and lots of photos, but as it was Sunday night, a soothing, chilly, comfortable kind of Sunday night, and what with all the red wine about the place, I was a few sheets to the wind already, so very few shots did the process justice (honestly, you’re lucky my thumb isn’t in most of these). While the pasta boils in the huge tub of water you’ve prepared, return to the sauce. Strain the oil and whisk it into the tomatoes and keep it hot.

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Noodleoodleoodleoodleoo

When you’re ready to serve, heat up a big frying pan and quickly toss the cooked, strained pasta and the cooked, thick sauce together, getting it all thick and juicy and clingy. Serve, maybe garnished with a little torn basil if there’s any left. If not, c’est la vie. If you’re the blogger: put your goddamn camera away and follow that heavenly plate to the table. Hot, nourishing, pasta pomodoro à la M.

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Put the camera down and eat, woman!

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