Strozzapreti, meaning ‘priest strangler’ as it is reputed to be enjoyed so much and in such quantities by the holy fathers that it chokes them, is a rolled pasta that goes very well with this tomato sauce. You can of course use other pastas if you can’t get hold of Strozzapreti.
120 grams pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove of garlic – finely chopped
1 small onion – finely chopped
1/4 red bell pepper – cut into short slices
2 tablespoons chopped Florence fennel
125 grams button mushrooms – halved and then sliced
200 grams chopped plum tomatoes
2 heaped teaspoons tomato purée
fresh oregano finely chopped plus a few sprigs for garnishing
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese if you are making the vegetarian but not vegan version of this dish
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put salted water with a splash of olive oil on to boil for the pasta, and then cook the pasta according to the timings on the packet.
Meanwhile heat the oil in a frying pan and add the garlic and onion. Fry until translucent.
Add the red peppers and cook for á couple of minutes before adding the fennel and mushrooms. Stir well and leave to cook for five minutes.
Add the chopped tomato, purée and oregano. Cook slowly for 15-20 minutes until the sauce looks thick and richly red.
Season with salt and pepper.
If using the Parmesan cheese, add most of it now leaving a little to sprinkle on top of the pasta and stir into the sauce letting it melt.
Once the pasta is cooked but still with a little bite, drain from the water and add it to the sauce. Stir to mix.
Serve in shallow bowls with a grating of orange zest and a few sprigs of oregano to garnish. Of course if you are including Parmesan in your dish then add a garnish of grated cheese as well.