Pasta al Pomodoro

by Emily Kemme
pasta pomodoro
The sauce is so simple, you don’t need to chop the basil. Keep it whole and it will release its oil into the sauce. Remove basil from pomodoro sauce before tossing with pasta.

I believe there is no such thing as perfection in cooking, because face it, we’re all human. But this recipe for Pasta al Pomodoro, also known as spaghetti with tomato sauce, comes pretty darn close. A big bowl of spaghetti is my sort of comfort food. Round off the meal with a caprese salad of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and a drizzle of your best quality extra virgin olive oil. Rustic and simple, it’s authentically Italian and oh so easy.

Pasta al Pomodoro Recipe

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, minced

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 generous pinch crushed red pepper flakes

1 28 oz can peeled whole tomatoes, puréed in a blender

3 large basil sprigs (a “sprig” is the entire stem, leaves and all. You should have approximately 5-6 leaves per sprig for this recipe)

1 pound spaghetti

2 T unsalted butter

salt to taste

olive oil for pasta

Warm oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook, stirring until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, continuing to stir, for 3 minutes. Add crushed red pepper flakes and cook for one more minute. Add puréed tomatoes and basil, stirring to combine with the aromatics (garlic and onions) and cover. Continue simmering sauce until it thickens slightly and flavors meld, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

While sauce is simmering, bring water to boil in a large pot. Cook pasta according to package directions, and drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Add several tablespoons olive oil to keep pasta supple and from sticking. Keep covered.

Remove basil from sauce and add pasta water, stirring to loosen sauce, keeping at simmer. Add butter to sauce, stirring to melt.

Carefully ladle sauce over pasta while still in pot, and gently toss to coat strands. Serve in shallow bowls.


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