This is THE recipe to make this week to use up those delicious late-summer tomatoes!
This is a recipe from Scarpetta restaurant, owned by Scott Conant a restauranteur who has appeared on quite a few food TV shows. I remember seeing this pasta featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate on Food Network on the Sauced episode; I was quite intrigued because the person discussing it said it was totally worth the $24 price tag (now $26-damn inflation)…he said he’d even pay FORTY DOLLARS FOR IT! What would that be in today’s dollars?!
I’ve seen this recipe all over the Internet, all to rave reviews. I made it last summer and thought it was absolute perfection in terms of capturing the freshness of summer and the essence of tomatoes. It’s a little bit of work to pull it all together…but many things that are worth doing take some effort, right? Just keep in mind that this is not your run-of-the-mill spaghetti with tomato sauce recipe (aka from a jar) and you do want to plan ahead so you have plenty of time to pull it all together. Make a side salad and allow this pasta to shine *Italian chef kiss gesture*.
It’s pasta with tomato sauce, plain and simple. But what it makes so special is the perfectly ripe tomatoes, quality of the spaghetti (use the best dried or fresh pasta you can get it-or make it!), and the basil- and garlic-infused olive oil that is added to the tomato sauce near the end of the cooking time. This gives you some fruity richness with all the garlic flavor we love, but without the chunks of pungent garlic. Cook the pasta just shy of al dente and immediately add it to the sauce to finish cooking. Top it off with a little butter and tons of Parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano to be specific-splurge for it). You get three layers of basil flavor too-infused in the olive oil, cooked in the tomato sauce, and fresh basil sprinkled over when serving.
This recipe does use some high-quality canned San Marzano tomato purée, which you can adjust up or down depending on how ripe and sweet your fresh tomatoes are…you do want to keep this in the recipe to add some backbone and another layer of tomato flavor to the sauce, but feel free to up the ripe tomatoes and use less if your tomatoes are EXCELLENT!
I haven’t perfected that restaurant-worthy pasta swirl to plate it but never fear-I eat enough pasta that I’m sure perfection will soon be mine. Then I will compile a video for you all so you can do it too!
I highly recommend going to your local farmers’ market this weekend, stock up on tomatoes and immediately coming home to make this recipe! There is something so magical about a simple recipe done absolutely right.
The perfect summer tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes! Perfectly al-dente pasta with fresh tomato sauce infused with garlic-basil oil and sprinkled with lots of Parmesan cheese and MORE fresh basil!
- 2-1/2 pounds ripe plum/Roma tomatoes
3/4 to 1 cup of canned San Marzano tomato puree
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Handful of fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 whole garlic cloves
- 10 to 12 large basil leaves
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 12 ounces spaghetti, high-quality dried or fresh
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Extra-virgin olive oil, to drizzle
- Fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) freshly ground Parmesan cheese
- Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Prepare an ice bath. Core the tomatoes with a paring knife and score the bottom of each tomato with an “X”. When the water is boiling, place the tomatoes in the pot and leave for 15 to 30 seconds, until the skins begin to pull away from the flesh. Remove from the water and transfer to the ice bath. When cool, peel the skin with a paring knife.
- Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds with your fingers, reserving the juice and seeds.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the seeded tomatoes to the pot with a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes. Cook the tomatoes for about 5 minutes, until they begin to soften. When tender, begin smashing with a potato masher. Strain the reserved juices into the pot, discarding the seeds. Add the canned tomato puree and fresh basil leaves and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 45 minutes. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary.
- Also, prepare the basil-garlic oil: Heat the olive oil with the garlic cloves, basil and red pepper flakes over medium-low heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the garlic begins to turn lightly golden. Strain the oil and add to the tomato mixture at the end of the cooking time.
- While the tomato sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. When boiling, add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions minus 1 minute, just shy of al dente. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.
- Add the pasta to the tomato sauce with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, tossing to coat. Thin the sauce with the reserved pasta water to make a thick but creamy sauce. Taste for seasonings and again adjust as necessary. Transfer to serving plates; drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the Parmesan and fresh basil.
Inspiration: on seriouseats.com