With tomatoes in season, August is the perfect time to make your pasta sauces from fresh tomatoes rather than tinned ones. It gives an entirely different flavour - much fresher and lighter. It also combines well with seafood like prawns or those mixed bags of chilled or frozen seafood you can now find at a very reasonable price in most supermarkets. Result - the classic spaghetti marinara.
3 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1/2 a bunch of spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced or a small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 large ripe tomatoes (about 300g), skinned* and roughly chopped
200g chilled or frozen prawns or mixed seafood (containing e.g. prawns, mussels and squid)
A handful of fresh parsley or 1/2 a mug (about 60g) frozen peas (optional)
Salt, pepper and a few drops of wine vinegar to taste
Heat a large frying pan over a moderate heat, add the oil and fry the onion for a few minutes until soft. Add the crushed garlic and tomato paste, stir and tip in the tomatoes and simmer over a low heat while you cook the spaghetti, following the instructions on the pack. If the sauce seems a bit dry add a couple of spoonfuls of the pasta cooking water. Mash the tomatoes with a fork as they soften to break them down.
About 5 minutes before the spaghetti is cooked turn up the heat under the sauce and tip in the seafood and peas if using. Stir and heat through thoroughly. Season and add the parsley if using. Drain the spaghetti and tip into the sauce. Toss together well and serve. The Italians wouldn't generally sprinkle parmesan over a sauce like these but feel free if you want to.
* To skin tomatoes make a small cut near the stem, put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave for a minute then drain and pour cold water over them. The skins should peel away easily.
* You could equally well serve this sauce with rice