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Let’s do lunch: tagliarini with tomato sauce

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A simple but incredibly comforting dish of pasta and slow-cooked tomatoes

“Tagliarini with tomato sauce is the simplest of dishes, but one of the most comforting. We rarely take it off the menu,” says Tim Siadatan, chef and co-owner of Padella. “It’s made with san marzano tomatoes, good olive oil and garlic. That’s it.” The key, Tim continues, is the use of “really beautiful tinned tomatoes”—grown in the volcanic and richly fertile soils of Mount Vesuvius on the sunny shores of Amalfi, Italy. “We work with a farm that grows san marzano tomatoes with PDO protection,” he explains. “Much like sparkling wine from Champagne, the climate and growing conditions in this specific area are what give them their exceptional flavour and special status.”

The tomatoes are rinsed of brine in a colander, “so you’re just left with the fruit. We fry off the garlic in olive oil, to go in with the tomatoes once they’re properly drained,” Tim explains. “That’s then slow cooked for about six hours”, left to simmer and bubble away until thick, jammy, and full of flavour. “Patience is key. Even with lesser quality tomatoes, you can make a good sauce if you do it low and slow.” Once ready, “that condensed tomato is diluted with a little bit of pasta water to make it really saucy.”

Enriched with egg yolk
The shoe-lace like tagliarini pasta is equally special, made on site—rolled and flicked in the restaurant window each morning—and enriched with egg yolk. “We tend to go a bit more yolk-heavy, compared with say, our pici, which is just flour and water,” Tim continues. “Though tomato sauce with pasta is the most classic combination out there, and very versatile, we think it works particularly well with the tagliarini made in this way. It’s more luxurious, and gives it added elegance.”

All that’s left, we chime in enthusiastically, is to pile on the parmiggiano reggiano—right? “We prefer not to serve this with cheese,” Tim confides. “Of course, if you want cheese we’ll do that, it’s just not something I want to encourage. It’s quite rich as it is, and pretty filling. I think you should just let it be, and really let the fruit sing.”