Usually a simple accompaniment for boiled or grilled meats, salsa rossa also makes a great pasta sauce. Once filmed with oil to make an airtight seal, it keeps well in a screw-top jar in the fridge for up to a month. You can ring the changes by adding clams to the finished sauce and bubbling it through until they open. If so, don’t serve any Parmesan.
Grill the red peppers until blackened, put into a bowl and cover. Leave to steam for 15 minutes, remove and peel. Cut in half, scrape out the pips and discard along with the skin. Cut the peppers into pieces and put in a food processor.
While the peppers are steaming, in a heavy-based pan fry the diced onions gently in the olive oil, stirring from time to time, until soft and translucent. Add the chillies to the pan, together with the chopped garlic. Continue to cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes with their liquid and the tomato ketchup. Turn up the heat and cook at a fast bubble to reduce slightly, stirring from time to time. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the oregano.
Add to the processor with the basil leaves and blitz to a purée. Use the salsa at once to sauce spaghetti, with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan, or store as described.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.