Fusilli in a thick tomato sauce with salami

In superior times, specifically those times when running a restaurant was my life, it was not seen to be de rigeur to have anything to do with the dried form of pasta. Not that there was anything absolutely wrong with such a thing – more it was to do with effort being seen to be made.

If you’re making your own pasta, then you are trying very hard at all levels of the show; and that, more than anything, is what should be happening in the restaurant’s engine room. The home-made product is superior in most ways I can work out, but when it comes to different shapes – dried is the way to go. There’s another little rule I have devised to unravel all this: when you want to taste the sauce, use shaped pasta – it certainly won’t intrude; and when you want to taste a light, melt in the mouth pasta, roll your own.

There’s another, frivolous, yet important reason to go for shapes like spirals, and butterflies, and little ears, and cylinders: the kids love shapes, so why not give them what they want.

8 fresh tomatoes, skinned

50ml soy sauce

sprig of rosemary

250g tin of peeled tomatoes, preserved in their own juices - For a long time, I was sceptical about tinned tomatoes, for illogical, superior reasons, but in the end, it is immensely practical to use tinned tomatoes when a full-on sauce is all that’s needed. I keep the fresh, ripe seasonal product to eat as they are.


1 chilli, chopped finely

1 clove garlic, chopped finely black pepper

2 zucchini, sliced finely

a little butter pasta - Any dried pasta with nooks and crannies to catch an unsuspecting sauce would be fine. Fusilli are long whirls, about 5cm long.

a little mild salami per person, cut into short slivers

Parmesan for grating


The tomatoes will come at you from two flanks. Those from the tin will be be cooked down hard to provide a very rich and thick sauce to toss with the pasta; the others, less cooked, imbued with a little soy sauce and rosemary, will sit at the bottom of the bowl to provide a pleasant surprise, a little more substance and texture, and a slightly different tomato flavour.


Prepare those to sit at the bottom of the bowl first, cooking them on top of the stove. These can be then set aside while the others are cooking. Slice four of the tomatoes into quarters or eighths, depending on their size, pack them closely in a saucepan, sprinkle with the soy sauce, and cook very gently with the rosemary on a low heat until the tomatoes soften, about 5 minutes. Cook gently for a couple of minutes more, then set aside, covered. The tomatoes must be firm enough to have retained their shape.


Chop the tinned tomatoes roughly and toss them into a glass bowl, complete with any juices. Sprinkle with a couple of teaspoons of salt, the chilli and garlic, and put them in the microwave, uncovered. Cook on high for about 25-35 minutes, depending on the power of your machine. You might need to check them every so often as there can be hot spots in microwaves. If necessary, remove and stir occasionally. The sauce is done when it is thick, but moist, and the room is filled with the aroma of tomatoes. Season with black pepper and set aside.


Cook the zucchini with a little butter until soft. This is done easily in the microwave. The zucchini should have softened, but not disintegrated.


Cook the pasta. Fusilli usually take about 15 minutes, but check as they go.


When the pasta is just about cooked, check the sauces for temperature and seasoning. Re-heat if necessary.


Arrange a little of the zucchini and a couple of pieces of the cooked, marinated tomato at the bottom of a pasta bowl. Toss the fusilli through the thick, rich tomato sauce until it has all been swallowed up. Cover with a few strips of the salami and as much grated cheese as you like.

WINE: The Rutherglen region of the north-east of Victoria is rightly renowned for its fortifieds, but it also makes good halfback-flank dry reds. Look for Bul- lers, Baileys, Campbells or Stanton & Killeen.