Oozy Tomato Sauce with Spinach and Olives (Sugo al Pomodoro con Olive e Spinaci)

By Michaela, Emanuela and Romina Chiappa From the book Simply Italian: Cooking at Home with the Chiappa Sisters
Oozy Tomato Sauce with Spinach and Olives (Sugo al Pomodoro con Olive e Spinaci)

This sauce is a simple twist on the Classic Tomato Sauce. It has a few extra ingredients that jazz it up if you need to impress in a hurry. The black olives give a wonderful burst of flavour, which contrasts with the creamy mozzarella, and the spinach gives a final explosion of colour. Children will love this oozy tomato sauce with farfalle.

For how many? Serves 4-5

Ingredients

  • Dried pasta suggestion: 400g farfalle, penne or tagliatelle
  • ½ a red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • fine salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 x 400g tins good-quality chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 organic vegetable stock cube
  • a handful of black olives, stoned
  • 20g freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
  • 2 x 100g balls buffalo mozzarella
  • 235g baby spinach leaves, washed and patted dry
  • extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle

Instructions

Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water until al dente. 

Gently fry the onion in the oil over a medium heat for about 4 minutes, until soft and translucent.

Add the garlic to the onion, cook for 1 minute, then add the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée and cayenne pepper, and crumble in the stock cube. Stir everything together and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, then stir the olives into the sauce and simmer for a further 2 to 3 minutes.

Just before serving, sprinkle the Parmesan over the sauce and stir in torn pieces of the mozzarella. Scatter over the spinach.

Drain the pasta and gently mix it into the sauce. The moisture and heat from the pasta will wilt the spinach. Add a splash of the pasta water to loosen the sauce, if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a little extra grated Parmesan on top.

Tip Olives should always be bought with their stones still in, as they will be much tastier. We often keep a few spare jars in the cupboard for unexpected visitors (they are great with toasted bread and olive oil as an antipasto). To remove the stones from your olives, squash them with the heel of your hand and the stone will pop out!

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