Considering Audrey Hepburn's slim figure, it's hard to believe that she ate pasta on a regular basis. But according to her son, Luca Dotti, she had a "serious addiction" to carbs. In Audrey at Home: Memories of My Mother's Kitchen ($24; amazon.com), Dotti sheds light on his mom's decidedly low-key lifestyle through a selection of carefully curated recipes, each accompanied by a special family anecdote.
And believe it or not, Hepburn's personal favorite dish, spaghetti al pomodoro, is the first thing she'd demand when returning home from shooting a film. "As with all Italians, after spending a little time abroad, Mum would feel a physical need to eat pasta," he writes of the Belgium-born actress, who cemented her love for Italy when she married Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti (Luca's father) in 1969. "Thus when she returned from a trip, a plate of spaghetti al pomodoro was always waiting for her."
Below, find her most prized recipe.
Spaghetti al Pomodoro
3 lbs vine-ripened tomatoes, cored and coarsely diced 1 onion, peeled and left whole
1 stalk celery, cleaned and left whole
1 carrot, cleaned and left whole
6 basil leaves, chopped, plus whole leaves for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil
A pinch of sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb spaghetti
1. Start by cooking the tomatoes in a large pan with a lid over a high heat, with the onion, celery, and carrot for about 10 minutes to soften the vegetables.
2. Remove the lid and keep the boil for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.
3. Lower the heat to medium-low, and add the basil leaves and a drizzle of oil. The tomato sauce is ready when the bubbles are no longer made of water but rather small craters of sauce. Remove from the stove, remove the largest vegetable chunks, and allow the sauce to cool.
4. A stainless steel food mill—the hand-operated type—is necessary once the cooking is complete, in order to transform the tomato sauce and pieces of vegetables into a puree of the right consistency. It will also remove the bitter skins and tomato seeds.
5. Add a drizzle of olive oil and adjust bitterness with a pinch of sugar. Season with salt and pepper.
6. To cook the spaghetti al dente, fill a large pot with cold water and place over high heat. When the water comes to a boil add a handful of coarse salt and the paste, without breaking it.
7. When done, remove the pasta pot from the stove (perhaps even a minute sooner than the cooking time suggests on the package). Drain in a colander and add the pasta to the sauce with a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Toss well and garnish with a few leaves of basil.