It's just started raining here in London, which in a way feels like a relief. We have a week of clouds on the calendar and nowhere to be. Amidst everything, having so much sunshine pour through the windows of my kitchen has been a welcome distraction, finally, now I feel like the strangeness of everything can sink in. I've been blasting through to-do lists manically, working all hours, and planning everything in my power - it's become a way to clutch on to time between calls back home worrying about family. A few weeks in, the rhythms of working from home seem to have settled. At opposite ends of the dinner table, we type between a curtain of flowers in vases and watch each other work. Between the mundane, meals punctuate the day, and the purpose of dinner is always pleasure.
This morning at the wholesale butcher in Smithfield Market (where I've bought huge joints of meat for every party I've ever thrown) I went to buy a few Italian sausages. At first, I wanted to roast them in the oven with lentils, carrots, and celery - a dish I miss from noisy nights at The Eagle. It's just a rough chop of some vegetables and is then left for a long time in the oven. It would have been a simpler task for dinner but I wanted something slow to eat instead. Like the rain, eating a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs slows you down - in all of the twisting, twirling, and trying to create perfect forkfuls of both you have to pause. It's not easy to eat on the sofa or balanced between your knees - it requires something sturdier. For the first time in a while, we cleared the table of books, laptops, and cable leads and lit a candle between our bowls. It was still raining outside, and I still had a few hours of work to do but between the final sprinkle of parmesan and eating the last strand of spaghetti I didn't think about anything else except getting to the bottom of my bowl and bottle of wine.
This is the quickest and easiest version of this classic comfort food. This makes enough sauce and meatballs for two so just freeze half if you’re eating for one. That way there’s always something nice waiting for you when you need it.
4 pork sausages (about 400g) 800ml passata or tinned chopped tomatoes 1 tsp fennel seeds 1 tsp chilli flakes 2 garlic cloves Olive oil Salt and pepper A sprinkle of sugar depending on your tomatoes 1 packet of spaghetti or your favourite long and twirly pasta Plenty of parmesan to serve
1. Squeeze the sausages out of their cases and roll into bite-size balls between the palms of your hands. 2. In a pot or a deep pan put in enough olive oil to cover the base and on a medium heat fry the fennel seeds, garlic and chilli flakes until they start smelling lovely. 3. Add the meatballs to the oil and cook until they are golden. 4. Pour in the passata and turn the heat down to a simmer. 5. Simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened a little. 6. Taste it at this point and season with salt and pepper, add a little more chilli too if you like it hotter and a sprinkle of sugar if the tomatoes are a bit too tart. 7. Boil your spaghetti and once cooked toss it through the tomato sauce with a little olive oil. 8. Pour yourself a glass of wine and eat immediately with lots of parmesan.