March 19, 2021
In my 20's I devoted a lot of time and mental energy searching for that perfect "little black dress" so I could bee-bop around Manhattan in style. Now, at 50, finding the perfect "weeknight marinara" is my dream come true. Pair that with some comfy pajamas and a Netflix series and call it a sexy date night! Oh, how times have changed.
Here is a delicious, quick, and easy tomato sauce I have been making for years. I've taken it to the next level by pureéing the tomatoes and basil together before cooking. I prefer a silky smooth texture to my sauce, and the more fresh basil, the better, in my humble opinion.
large handful fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (or combination oil and unsalted butter)
2-3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed, skins removed
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pound of your favorite pasta
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In a blender or Vitamix®, pureé the tomatoes and their juices with the fresh basil until smooth.
In a large sauté pan, cook the garlic in olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes on each side until golden. Carefully add the tomatoes, salt, and red pepper flakes if using. The sauce may splatter when it hits the heat so if you have a splash guard, use it! Stir to combine.
Turn the heat to low and let the sauce cook for about 40 minutes, occasionally stirring to avoid scorching. The sauce will thicken and darken in color when ready. Remove the garlic and discard. Taste the sauce, adjust the seasoning and set aside.
Fill a large pot with water and set over high heat. Add some Kosher salt, enough that when you taste it, it's as salty as sea water.
When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta, stir, and cook according to the package directions. I like my pasta al dente and always start checking for doneness a couple of minutes shy of that. Keep in mind that the pasta will continue to cook in its own heat and the heat of the sauce.
Drain the pasta and add to a large bowl. Ladle some of the sauce over the pasta and toss to combine. You may not need all of the sauce for 1 pound of pasta. It depends on how "saucy" you are. I always have some left over and use it later in the week for a smaller amount of pasta. You could also freeze any unused sauce. Top the pasta with the cheese and more chopped basil. Serve and devour along with your favorite salad or side dish. Buon Appetito!