I wish I had an Italian nonna, but I don’t. So when I need old fashioned, Italian-style cooking inspiration, I do the next best thing – I use cookbooks that my own mother gave to me – worn paperbacks from 20+years ago, and channel Marcella Hazan.
This past weekend I went to my local farmers market and bought a whole bunch of gorgeous, late season tomatoes. Mostly I bought seconds, at a discount, and we’ve been using them in salads, layered with fresh mozzarella and chopped up in Greek salad or similar cold dishes.
But last night, I was in the mood for pasta. And with fresh tomatoes, I knew that I could make “real” pasta sauce easily. Using Marcella Hazan’s “Thin Spaghetti with Fresh Basil and Tomato Sauce” as an inspiration I set to work.
This isn’t really a recipe as much as a description of what I did. The result was a fragrant and light sauce that gloriously coated the pasta, but didn’t look gloppy, as the store-bought sauce in jars so often does.
- 8 ounces (half of package) of spaghetti
- 1 pound of fresh Roma (small oblong) tomatoes
- handful of fresh basil leaves
- 4 cloves of garlic
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon of kosher salt plus more for pasta water
- freshly ground pepper
While boiling the salted water for pasta, I halved the tomatoes and pulled out the seeds and the membrane that attached them to the tomato skin. Then I cut each tomato half in half again and cut those strips into chunks or rectangles. I washed and chopped the basil leaves and put the tomato pieces, chopped basil, oil, salt, and pepper in a medium size, heavy pot. I mashed the garlic to a pulp with a garlic press and added it, stirring everything together before heating it. I brought the mixture to a boil and then cooked it at a low boil, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. The tomato pieces softened, but remained distinct.
Once the sauce was about halfway done, I started cooking the spaghetti. With the pasta water boiling, I slowly added the spaghetti to the water, keeping it boiling and letting it cook uncovered for approximately 8 -10 minutes. My sauce seemed to be done before the pasta was ready, so I shut off the light and left it on the stove.
After the pasta was done, I drained it thoroughly, using the water to warm the bowls before discarding the hot water. I reserved a bit of the tomato sauce (because I thought it made more than would be needed for the 8 ounces of pasta), then dumped the pasta into the sauce in the pot and stirred. Once the sauce coated the pasta, it was ready to serve.
Dinner in under 30 minutes! Served with sautéed vegetables, and enough leftover for lunch today. Happy Friday.