Why is it that some of the simplest recipes are some of the most delicious? Pureed tomatoes, dried pasta, fresh basil, garlic, parmesan and olive oil. Done. It is so incredibly good, I could eat this pasta every day. Don't let the bland appearance fool you. It is addictive. Any season, any day, any mood, anytime, this pasta can, does and will make me very happy. Try it, you'll see.
Tomato Basil Spaghetti
(adapted from Scott Conant's tomato-basil spaghetti at Scarpetta restaurant)
1 1/2 cups pureed plum or pear tomatoes (I use Alessi brand Prima Passata strained tomatoes)
1/2 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, whole
3 sprigs fresh basil plus 4-5 leaves cut in chiffonade
pinch of red pepper flakes
3/4 lb dried spaghetti
1/2 cup grated parmesan (preferably Parmigiano Reggiano)
Fill a large pot with water, add a handful of kosher salt and bring to a boil.
Next, pour the olive oil into a small sauce pot and add in the garlic cloves, basil sprigs and pinch of red pepper flakes. Bring to a slow simmer over very low heat, making sure not to burn the garlic.
Meanwhile, pour the tomato puree into a large saute pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Allow the puree to reduce as the oil cooks and the water comes to a boil.
Add the pasta to the water once it comes to a rapid boil. Cook until al dente, or one minute less than the instructions on the package suggests.
Once the pasta is cooking, add two or three tablespoons of the basil oil to the tomato puree and whisk in until incorporated. When the pasta is done cooking, using a slotted pasta spoon (or something similar) remove the pasta from the pot and transport it directly into the saute pan with the tomato sauce. It is alright if a bit of pasta water gets into the tomato puree. Stir the pasta and sauce together until the pasta has absorbed the sauce. Add most of the grated parmesan and chiffonade of basil to the pasta, reserving a little of each for garnish. Toss the pasta until evenly mixed.
Serve immediately, sprinkled with the remaining cheese and basil.
Note: Keep the leftover basil oil in the refrigerator for your next batch of spaghetti, to drizzle over grilled fish or to use in vinaigrettes.
|This jar of pureed tomatoes is a time-saver. Feel free to buy canned whole plum tomatoes and puree them yourself.|
|Olive oil infused with fresh garlic, basil and a bit of pepper flake gives this pasta richness and a fresh, herby flavor.|
|The key is to stir the pasta until the sauce is almost entirely absorbed.|
|Heaven in a pasta bowl.|