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Pasta al Pomodoro

You think it’s spaghetti. But this basic Italian dish is not smothered in heavy tomato sauce.

Si Foster shares a lighter, quicker version of Pasta al Pomodoro.
Pasta al Pomodoro
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped or minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
1-28 oz can peeled tomatoes, pureed
kosher salt
3 large fresh basil sprigs
3 quarts water
12 oz bucatini or spaghetti
1/2 cup pasta water, reserved from cooking pasta
2 tablespoons cubed unsalted butter
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium low heat.

Add one minced or chopped onion, stirring until soft, about 12 minutes.

Add minced garlic cloves and cook, stirring for 2-4 minutes.

Add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Cook for about 1 minute.

Increase heat to medium and add can of tomatoes that have been pureed in a food processor or blender.

Lightly season with kosher salt.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly and the flavors meld, about 20 minutes.

Remove pan from heat, stir in fresh basil and set aside.

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a 5 quart pot.

Season with salt.

Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally until about 2 minutes before tender.

Drain pasta, reserving at least 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Discard basil and heat skillet over high heat.

Stir in reserved pasta water to loosen sauce, bring to a boil.

Add pasta and cook stirring until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente about 2 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and add the cubed butter and grated cheese.

Toss with metal tongs until the cheese melts.

Transfer to warm bowl or plates; serve with more grated cheese if desired.


-Long (12″ or longer) metal tongs, get some. Cost just a few dollars. You need them for this dish.

-Both times I have made this, I chopped my onion, because I usually like my onions chunky. In the future, I think I’ll mince. It would lend to an even smoother sauce.

-One time I was out of whole peeled tomatoes, and I subbed chopped tomatoes. No prob.

-If fresh basil is unavailable in your area, go ahead and use dried basil. Of course, you won’t be retrieving it from the sauce before serving, as you would with the fresh sprigs. I would try about 1 tablespoon of dried basil leaves. Fresh is best, if at all possible.

-I’m not a huge garlic fan so I cut back and used only 2 cloves. Still plenty of flavor.

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