One of my fondest pasta memoires is when I was a wee one in elementary school. I had an Italian friend who's parents always made the best pasta dishes. Sometimes I would go to her house at lunch, and if I was lucky, her mom would have made her delicious penne with tomato bacon sauce.
For awhile, whenever I made pasta, I always used the ready made tomato sauce. And every time I ate the pasta, I always thought, why doesn't it taste like that amazing tomato sauce I had as a child?
Not until last summer did I realize making pasta with your own sauce made all the difference. I don't know why I never bothered with making my own sauce before. I probably thought there were special Italian grandmother techniques that were involved and if I didn't use them my sauce would not turn out. I've realized that the only technique required is to have patiences like a grandmother. The sauce needs to simmer slowly, so it can develop rich and complex flavours. The water from the tomatoes also cooks off which results in a thick homemade tomato sauce.
The ingredients are also important. If you don't have access to fresh tomatos, try and find canned San Marzano tomatoes. However, if tomatoes are in season, like right now, then any variety of plum tomatoes will do. I used roma tomatoes in this recipe. Plum tomatoes have thicker walls and less water than most types of tomatoes, which will result in a rich homemade tomato sauce.
The olive oil infused with garlic and basil really is the secret ingredient for this sauce. It turns this simple tomato sauce into a delicate and flavourful sauce that you will not want to mess with, except for adding a bit of Parmigiano Reggiano at the end. If you add anything else, like ground beef, it truly distracts you from experiencing the simple flavours of this sauce.
Tomato Sauce with Garlic Basil Olive Oil
9 ripe plum tomatoes
red pepper flakes
- 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
- handfull of basil leaves, leave a few leaves for garnish at the end
- 1/3 cup of olive oil
- 1 lb of spaghetti
- 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1 tbsp of butter
- To prepare the sauce, bring a large pot of water to boil and prepare a bowl of ice water on the side.
- Cut a small x on the bottom of each tomato and blanch them in the boiling water for 30 seconds or until you start to see the tomato skins peeling. Quickly transfer the tomatoes from the boiling water to the ice water. When cool, peel the skin off the tomatoes.
- Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and cut out the core. Use your fingers to scoop out the seeds inside. Reserve the seeds and juices in a bowl and set aside.
- In a large sauce pan heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium heat. Once the oil is hot transfer the tomatoes to the pan. Add a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes.
- Allow the tomatoes to cook for a few minutes. Once they have softened, use a potato smasher and smash the tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes for 45 minutes, smashing and stirring occasionally. If the sauce seems to thick, strain the reseved juices from the seeds into the tomatoes.
- While the tomatoes cook, prepare the basil and garlic olive oil. In a small sauce pan add 1/3 cup of olive oil, sliced garlic, pinch of chili flakes and basil (remember to leave some for garnish at the end). Let the oil slowly cook on low heat so the flavours can transfer to the oil. When the garlic is lightly browned, remove from heat and let cool down for 5 minutes. Strain the oil and combine with tomato sauce.
- When you've cooked the tomatoes for 30 minutes prepare your pasta. Bring a large pot of water to boil and heavily salt. Add enough salt so the water tastes as salty as a broth would. Cook the spaghetti until just shy of al dente. Reserve half a cup of pasta water.
- Once the tomato sauce is at your desired consistency add in the pasta, a bit of the pasta water, Parmigiano Reggiano, butter and the rest of the basil thinly sliced. If you feel the tomato sauce is still too dry, add in the remaining pasta water.
- Mix the sauce and pasta together so the combination is one cohesive dish. The sauce should stick to the pasta. Serve this dish immediately and garnish with more Parmigiano Reggiano if desired.
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen