Pasta with tomato sauce is one of the classics. It’s a dish we all know and (mostly) love. And to be honest it’s a perfect dish. While we have absolutely zero qualms about making and eating the same dish over and over (looking at you Pasta Aglio e Olio), there’s always room for experimentation. Especially when it comes to sauce.
Let’s call this pasta al pomodoro 2.0. She doesn’t live in the shadow of the original recipe. She’s the ‘fun’ cousin who visits during holidays. This is the pasta with tomato sauce you make when you have the sweetest tomatoes of the summer, bursting with flavor and teetering on the edge of becoming dessert.
Super Saucy Tomato Sauce
This sauce is extremely saucy. The reason being that we used the immersion blender to blend these jammy tomatoes into the consistency of tomato soup. Actually, you could probably use this sauce base for tomato soup, but we won’t go down that rabbit hole today.
Blending this sauce heightens the flavor profiles of each ingredient immensely. The garlic, which we usually keep whole, lends a deep jammy flavor. The basil almost tastes concentrated. This sauce is very much like a bisque but there isn’t any cream.
You might have some leftover sauce in your bowl or the pan. Whip out the bread and ‘fa la scarpetta’, this is not the moment to choose between pasta or bread.
We keep the garlic clove whole or in large chunks in almost all of our recipes and this is no exception. The reason being that when garlic is kept whole it gets jammy and flavors the oil which then flavors the food. When garlic is finely sliced or chopped it burns extremely quickly. It also doesn’t develop the velvety smooth texture or simply lend flavors to the food.
Garlic is an incredible ingredient but it should complement a dish, not overpower it. Keep the clove in large pieces as it will eventually get blended up after it has sweetened through the cooking process.
Salting The Tomato Sauce
We do not heavily salt this tomato sauce because it’s quite sweet and rich. However, you should salt to taste. Don’t forget the pasta water is also salted so don’t overdo it.
Mixing And Timing
For this dish especially, the pasta should finishing cooking in the tomato sauce with a few ladles of pasta water. This will allow the pasta to absorb the sauce, concentrating every bite. It’s better to pull the pasta early from the water and into the sauce than too late to avoid overcooking in the sauce and becoming mushy. DO NOT DISCARD THE PASTA WATER. That starchy water is your liferaft if there isn’t enough liquid in the pan.
Usually, when we pull pasta from the pot into the sauce it’s still quite undercooked which is 100% okay. Be sure to use a timer for this recipe as 1 minute does make a difference when cooking the pasta.
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Pasta With Tomato Sauce (Pasta al Pomodoro 2.0)
- 2 large smashed garlic cloves (or cut into 2 pieces)
- 1 chopped peperoncino (spicy pepper), optional
- 4 tbsp finely grated parmigiano reggiano
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 5 leaves basil
- 3/4 lb cherry tomatoes (the sweeter the better)
- 3/4 lb spaghetti (350 grams)
Place the garlic and peperoncino into a small pot. Cover generously with a layer of olive oil and turn heat to low. Cook the garlic and peperoncino until right when the garlic starts to turn golden. Usually 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Chop the cherry tomatoes into quarters.
Turn pot heat to medium and add cherry tomatoes. Stir and cover. Cook for 18 minutes, stirring every 3 to 5 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to boil.
Add the basil to the tomato sauce. Also add 1 pinch of salt. Cover and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Remove the sauce from heat.
Use an immersion blender to finely blend the sauce. Blend until smooth as canned tomato soup.
Note: You can leave the sauce in the pot or transfer to a deep bowl if you’re concerned about making a mess.
Generously salt pasta water, then add pasta. Cook until 3 minutes before ‘al dente’ per package description. Reserve 1 to 2 cups pasta water.
Note: Pasta water should taste like the sea.
Add sauce to a large pan and place on low heat while waiting for pasta to cook. Cut the heat if it starts to boil.
1 minute before adding pasta, add 1 ladle of pasta water to sauce. Turn heat to medium then high. The sauce should begin to boil.
Add the pasta to the sauce, stirring continuously. Add pasta water 1/2 ladle at a time as the pasta continues to cook and dry out. Cook for the remaining 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove from heat then add parmigiano reggiano. Stir to incorporate.
Plate and serve immediately. Don’t forget to finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil!