A few simple tricks to marry your Spaghetti and Tomato sauce yields a simple restaurant quality pasta dish.
How much thought do you put in to your spaghetti and tomato sauce? I know I don’t put much thought in to it. You probably know how to make a simple sauce from canned roma tomatoes, you should heavily salt our pasta water, and you should mix the sauce and spaghetti prior to serving it. I was listening to a Bon Appétit podcast this past week that made me think of spaghetti and tomato sauce in a new way. This method is more of a marriage of the pasta and the sauce that creates a thing of beauty. This is restaurant level spaghetti.
There aren’t any special ingredients in this recipe. You’ve got crushed roma tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, onion, basil, butter, pasta, and salted water. What’s unique is the transfer of the pasta to the sauce. Cook the spaghetti half way then add one and a half cups of the pasta water to the sauce. Turn the heat up on the sauce then add the pasta and keep tossing until it’s just al dente.
There’s some really cool things happening here. There’s an emulsification happening when the salty pasta water and the pasta are added and tossed in the sauce. Think of making risotto. By constantly stirring the rice the starches release from the grain and incorporate in to the liquid. A little bit of butter here gives a nice shimmer but the creaminess and thickness of the sauce all comes from the pasta. There’s no need to add salt to the sauce either. The pasta water will salt your sauce. It’s an easy, efficient, and brilliant method.
I’ve never liked spaghetti and tomato sauce. Apparently I’ve been making it all wrong!
- 6 oz spaghetti
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 medium onion cut in half
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbs butter
- 4 cups water
- 1 tbs sea salt
- Handful of minced basil
- Parmesan cheese
- Fill one wide pot with 4 cups of water and 1 table spoon of sea salt. Set aside on back burner.
- In a larger than you think you need pot, add 1/4 cup olive oil and heat over a medium flame. Place the halved onion cut side down and allow it to caramelize for 5-6 minutes. The onion will be removed at the end. Stir in the minced garlic then add the crushed tomatoes, one tablespoon of butter and half the basil. Allow this to simmer on low for 30 minutes adding a 1/4 cup of water at a time as it reduces to prevent splattering.
- After 15 minutes, heat the salted water and bring to a simmer. Cook the pasta for 5-6 minutes just until it can be easily bent in the pot.
- Raise the heat on the sauce and add 1 1/2 cups of pasta water. With tongs, transfer the pasta directly from the simmering water to the sauce. Toss for 4-5 minutes until pasta is al dente. Incorporate the remaining butter and basil then serve immediately.
- Garnish with basil and fresh parmesan cheese.