Recipe: Pasta and Sunday Gravy

by Meredith Barry of Platypus

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click to enlarge Meredith Barry of Platypus.
Meredith Barry of Platypus.

The women in my family have strong beautiful hands. They smell of garlic and lemon. They awaken early to fill the house with the perfume of the past, a scent that lingers within my body and blood. The sound of sizzling nightshades and bubbling tomatoes reaches out, speckling both the stove top and shirts with red freckles. Comfort and a full belly await. Pasta and Sunday gravy are on the menu. And I am home.

Notes: You can add dry white or red wine instead of the water when you thin the sauce, but do not add too much. Do not add sugar! But you knew that. That’s what the carrot is for. Grate some good Pecorino Romano cheese, pour yourself a glass of negroamaro red wine from Sicily, and you are ready!

Pasta of choice
3 cans San Marzano tomatoes (whole)
Olive oil
1 small can tomato paste (or tube tomato paste)
1 large carrot, peeled and halved
4 or more cloves of garlic (to your liking), chopped
1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
Handful of dry basil
Fresh basil (if you can get it)
Salt and fresh ground pepper


In a large saucepan, bring water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions. Reserve some pasta water. While pasta cooks, purée the three cans of tomatoes in a blender and set aside.

In a saucepan, sauté the shallots and garlic in olive oil until soft, NOT brown.

Turn the flame to low. Add puréed tomatoes to the pot. Add tomato paste and carrot to the pot, and use the tomato paste can to measure out one can of pasta water and add to the pot. If you need more water to thin the sauce, do so, but add sparingly, until you like the thickness or thinness.

Add a good handful of dry basil to this and a pinch of salt and pepper to your taste.

Let simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir. Let simmer another 20 minutes or so. Stir. Do not let the bottom burn.

Add torn or chopped fresh basil. Let simmer another 15 minutes. Done. However, it’s always best the next day.

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