Spaghetti alla marinara

This is essentially the wonderful Anna Del Conte’s recipe, from her book ‘Anna Del Conte’ on pasta, which is second on my list of all-time favourite cookbooks. It’s pasta with skinned fresh tomatoes, very lightly cooked, and is juicy, vibrant and full of flavour while tasting light and fresh. 

Prep time: 10 mins (+30 mins marinating)
Cook time: 12 mins
Servings: 4
Servings: 4


  • 6-8 good sized ripe and flavourful tomatoes, peeled.
  • 500g of dried spaghetti
  • organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • a pinch of sugar if you can’t get really good sweet tomatoes
  • a splash of white balsamic vinegar
  • 5g sea salt


Boil a large saucepan of water.

Skin the tomatoes by cutting a shallow cross in the top of each one then covering them with boiling water for a minute or two. Plunge them into ice cold water then peel the skins off. Cut each one into 6-8 parts and remove the seeds (you can freeze the seeds and skins to use in veg stock). Note: I never remove the seeds because I’m a lazy slattern!

Now start cooking the spaghetti. It needs to be al dente (have some bite when cooked) so it’ll only need ten mins.

Heat a good amount of extra virgin olive oil in a wide heavy frying pan, it should cover the whole base and be about 2mm deep. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for a minute to soften the garlic. Avoid burning it. Now add the tomatoes and some sea salt. Cook for three mins

Now transfer the cooked pasta to the frying pan using a pasta spoon rather than draining it in a colander, that way you’ll take some of the starchy water with it, which is good. Toss it all about with the tomatoes making sure each pasta strand is coated. 

According to Anna Del Conte no cheese is served with this but I say plenty of fresh grated Parmesan and course-ground black pepper complement it beautifully. You can choose. At any rate I scatter a lot of fresh basil over it before serving.

Nutrition Info


Tomatoes are rich in lycopene which is a pokey antioxidant. Antioxidants are like bouncers at a night club, they go around finding stray electrons that are busy causing trouble in your body, and find them a love partner so they can both stay in and cuddle on the sofa.

Tomatoes are also a brilliant source of vitamin C, which supports skin and connective tissue health as well as immunity and iron absorption. The biotin in tomatoes is good for controlling blood sugar.

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Portion Guidelines

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