Week 35: Spaghetti and Tinned Plum Tomatoes

I know, it sounds like something from the menu at a motorway service station in 1987, but bear with me as it is possibly the tastiest meal I have cooked this year.

It’s the first recipe in the Cupboard Love book, and I’ve always swished straight past it to find something harder and more exotic; but this week I needed to cook something from what was in the cupboard (approximately nothing except for cornflour and a load of spices) after getting home late from work.

I was intrigued to try it after seeing a couple of programs on Food Network singing the praises of tinned tomatoes, so I thought this recipe would be the best one to see what the fuss was about.

To make this for two you will need: 200g spaghetti/linguine, a 400g tin of peeled plum tomatoes (posh ones if you like), 1 teaspoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons butter, 1 quarter teaspoon salt, 1 half teaspoon sugar, 2 garlic cloves, and some basil or sage leaves (but I didn’t have any)

First start the water boiling for the pasta, and while you wait get a colander / strainer (but not a sieve) and empty the tin of tomatoes into it.  Squash the tomatoes with your hands and mush them around until the juice has gone down the sink and you’re left with a tomato-ey pulp.

If you’re as clumsy as I am, you’ll also be left with a tomato splattered kitchen.  If you squeeze the tomatoes too hard they’ll squirt juice and pips everywhere, and your kitchen will look like the aftermath of the Red Wedding.  I’m still finding pips.

By the time you have wiped the worst of it off the kitchen window, the water should have come to a rolling boil, put the pasta in, and gently heat a heavy bottomed frying pan.  Add the oil and one teaspoon of butter, peel and break the garlic with the side of a knife/rolling pin.  When the butter has melted put the garlic in the frying pan and heat for 2 minutes, but not so the garlic goes brown.

Add the tomatoes, give it a good stir, then add the salt and sugar, and stir again.


Leave the sauce on the gentle heat, fizzing but not bubbling (it’s hard to describe but pretty accurate) while the pasta finishes cooking.  When it’s done drain the pasta then return it to the pan and stir it round with a teaspoon of butter. Then tip the tomato sauce in, stir round, season and serve.  I had a bit of parmesan in the the fridge, so I grated it over the top and it was bloody lovely.


If there was one meal I could eat day after day it would be this.  I’ll just paint my kitchen red.  Try it tonight!


Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)

cupboard love


  1. I love how simple pasta with a basic tomato sauce can be. I also love the flavors. I have a similar go-to sauce that’s always a hit and easily becomes something more fancy if I choose. 🙂

      1. I take the good old basic (I actually blogged about it a long whole back) and add sautéed portobello mushrooms, chicken sausage meatballs, or browned grass fed ground beef. Soooo good.

  2. Welcome welcome welcome to Fiesta Friday!! Its so nice to meet you, and I cannot wait to catch up on your blog! Pasta 24/7… especially this one… oh yeah, you and I are now best friends! This looks simply delicious….the perfect dish to bring to the table! Thanks so much for sharing! Have a lovely rest of your weekend… ❤

  3. Oh, you did come to the fiesta! Thanks and welcome! Now, mix and mingle with the other guests, chat them up, etc. It’s a party after all. 🙂 Pasta in tomato sauce is always a fine offering, can’t go wrong really. Looks delicious!

  4. What a lovely, simple recipe! Fantastic photos, too. Thanks for bringing this to the party, hope you’re enjoying your weekend! 🙂

    1. Haha definitely! Next time it’s all over the kitchen window I’ll get a snap before I clean up 😀

      It’s ideal for after work – literally only takes 20 mins from boiling the kettle to serving up – great for London life!

  5. Haha, great post! I sympathise with your red kitchen and pips, I’m also forever wreaking havoc with tomato or other sauces. But the result sounds like it was worth it, I’m trying this during the week! 😀

  6. Hi, Simon. Nice dish to bring to the party. I love love pasta. 😀 I hope you have something… like a leftover, maybe? 😀 I hope you mingled with some of the guests and I hope to see you next Friday. 😀 Hope you have a pleasant week!

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