Can anyone tell me something that shouts “summer time” louder and clearer than tomatoes and fresh basil? Tomatoes and basil are two ingredients that make a near perfect combination every time. There’s the classic Caprese Salad with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. And Panzanella, the perfectly delectable use for day old Italian bread, with tomatoes and basil. But today I’m bringing you my recipe for a simple, fragrant and nearly irresistable tomato-basil sauce.
I make this recipe often during the summer months when the basil is growing faster than I can find uses for it. It’s quick, it’s easy, and your whole family will love it. Mine does.
Because this recipe uses so few ingredients, be sure to use the very best of each that you can afford. I like the Cento brand of san marzano tomatoes and I always use real parmigiano-reggiano cheese for this. It makes all the difference in the final dish.
1 lb. spaghetti or linguine
2 tblsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
28 oz. can san marzano tomatoes
10-12 large fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
Large pinch of salt
4-5 grinds of black pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Cook your pasta according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce.
Heat the olive oil in a large, deep pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion. Cook until the onion is softened, approximately 4-5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes with all their juice. Crush the tomatoes using a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon.
Add the basil, a good pinch of salt, several grinds of black pepper and red pepper flakes. You can chop or chiffonade the basil if you like, but for this recipe I like to just tear it into large pieces. Feel free to add even more fresh basil if you want to.
Cook for ten minutes or until the tomatoes are well softened.
Add the hot, cooked pasta to the pan and toss or stir to combine. If you feel that the tomato-basil sauce is a little too thick, add a spoonful or two of the pasta cooking water to thin the sauce.
To serve, top with parmigiano-reggiano and a little more fresh basil. Makes four very generous servings.