Artist’s palate: Idris Khan’s spaghetti arrabbiata
Photography: Richard Foster
Idris Khan plumps for spaghetti arrabbiata because his wife loves spaghetti and he really, really loves chillies. As far as we are concerned he can have what he likes. He is an artist brave enough to successfully embrace, appropriate and recontextualise major artworks from the historical canon – by Caravaggio, JMW Turner and Leonardo da Vinci, to name just a few of the bigger hitters. His digitally layered photographs have also embraced texts, including the Koran, and musical scores. Turning to the giants of 20th century photography, he also even applied his impressionistic approach to the wholly representational record photography of Bernd and Hilla Becher. Brave, talented and original; we’ll even make it for him ourselves.
Ingredients (serves 4-5)
Extra virgin olive oil
Half a red onion, finely chopped
1tbs balsamic vinegar
guzzle of red wine
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 red chillies, chopped, seeds left in
2 tins cherry tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
rind of the Parmesan block (optional)
a little sugar (optional)
one packet of spaghetti
loads of grated Parmesan cheese
Heat 3tbs extra virgin olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over a medium heat. Add the red onion and stir around a few times to cover with oil.
Add the balsamic vinegar and stir, then add the red wine and reduce down until the onion is nicely caramelised.
Add the garlic and chilli and stir to coat everything in the red wine reduction. After a couple of minutes add the tomatoes and their juice, sprinkle with salt and black pepper and add ten basil leaves (never chop them, just rip them up in your hands).
If you have the rind off the bottom of the Parmesan block, chop this off and add to the sauce. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and cook, stirring from time to time and breaking up the tomatoes, until you have a thick sauce; this will take around 20 to 30 mins. Sometimes the tinned tomatoes may not be sweet enough, so I add a sprinkle of sugar to lift the sauce.
Add black pepper to taste. Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente (I always take two minutes off the time on the packet), drain and add to the sauce, stirring it through until every piece if the spaghetti is covered with tomato.
Serve with a few ripped basil leaves on top and a big bowl of grated Parmesan to sprinkle over.