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Italy! Food and Festivity!

Passport & Plate - Papa's Pasta

South Africa | Sunday, 2 March 2014 | 5 photos

Serves 4-6 people
Duration: about 30-45 min (depending on the wine and how good the music is)

1 bag of fusilli dried pasta
2 tins whole peeled tomatoes
1 red onion
3 cloves garlic
3 tbs Greek yoghurt
small tub of pitted Kalamata olives
2 block of creamy Danish feta
bunch of basil
pinch of salt, pepper, sugar
splash of red wine
olive oil and balsamic vinegar
(optional for the meat eaters : slice up 2 chorizo sausages and cook it with the garlic and onion)


How to prepare this recipe
Thinly slice the red onion and crush the garlic into a medium size pot. Drizzle with olive oil. Sizzle away on a medium heat, until the onion has softened and the garlic has browned.

Add a splash more olive oil and about ¼ cup of red wine.

Pour both tins of tomato into the pot. Take off the heat for a few moments while you break up the red tomatoes of goodness with your hands (Portuguese cooking method*).

Add 3 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt and 2 teaspoons of sugar.

Wash the basil, tear off the stalks and add to the sauce. Toss in the olives and crumble in the feta cheese.

Gently mix all the ingredients together. Leave on a low heat for about 20min, allowing all the Mediterranean flavors to fuse together.

Bring salted water to the boil, add the bag of fusilli pasta and cook until it’s al dente.

Grab your friends, some serving spoons, a few leaves of fresh basil to garnish and enjoy with a glass of wine!

*I’m a big fan of cooking with your hands – and this is a method my Portuguese grandmother taught me. It’s one of the key aspects of this recipe because squashing the tomatoes with your hands adds extra flavor and a splash of love.


The story behind this recipe
It’s New Year’s Eve. I can hear my Grandmother’s hearty chortle as she wins another round of cards against my brother (all those years of gambling are coming to good use.) My Aunt is out on the balcony enjoying the last few rays of the passing year and happily sipping her glass of wine as the sun slowly sets.

I walk over to the kitchen to see if my Dad is in need of a sous-chef. He hums to himself and moves in time to the salsa music playing from the stereo, as he chops up the Kalamata olives. Am I the only one who is feeling extremely nervous about my cousin’s ‘fancy in-laws’ who are coming for dinner? And my Dad is cooking?!

He hands me a spoonful of his famous tomato and basil pasta sauce. As I try it, all my fears melt away. ‘Papa’s Pasta’ was the first dish I ever learned to cook. Dad created it as a student in Durban, South Africa - looking for a hearty and flavoursome meal to share with his housemates. My Father is an artist and lives day to day by breathing in the smells of freshly ground coffee, the simple flavor of marmalade on toast and gets excited about colour and texture. His meal will surely impress even the harshest of food critics (snooty mother in-laws.) I pour myself a glass of wine and add a dash to the bubbling sauce for good measure.

Our guests arrive and so too does the polite conversation. “How wonderful has the weather been?” A hungry anticipation hangs in the air. When will dinner be served? All of a sudden Dad walks out of the kitchen–absolutely starkers except for two tea towels tied around his waist! He holds a wooden spoon in his hand and asks us excitedly, “Guess who I am?” The stunned silence is suddenly broken by the mother-in-law as she exclaims “The Naked Chef!” The whole room bursts into laughter. Suppertime shared with family has never tasted better.

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