Bucket list: Try the real deal at Scarpetta’s. This will have to do for now.
Scarpetta’s Tomato-Basil Spaghetti
Yield: 2-3 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
4 ripe plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
One 12-ounce can of San Marzano or organic whole tomatoes
Pinch of crushed red chili pepper flakes
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
8 fresh basil leaves, sliced thinly crosswise into a chiffonade
8 ounces dried spaghetti
For the Basil-Garlic Oil:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 whole cloves garlic
10 whole fresh basil leaves
Pinch of red chili flakes
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water nearby. Cut a small X on the bottom of each tomato. Ease the tomatoes into the pot and boil for about 15 seconds, then promptly move them to the waiting ice water. Pull off the skin with the tip of a paring knife. Cut the tomatoes in half and use your finger to flick out the seeds.
2. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until quite hot. Add the fresh and canned tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and season lightly with the salt and pepper. Let the tomatoes cook for a few minutes to soften. Then, using a potato masher, chop the tomatoes finely. Cook the tomatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened.
3. While the tomatoes are cooking, make the basil-garlic oil. Heat a small saucepan over low heat with 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic cloves, basil leaves and pepper flakes. Keep the heat on low to allow the ingredients to warm slowly and release their flavors. When the garlic is lightly browned, turn heat off and let cool for 10 minutes. The longer you let the oil sit, the more infused the oil. Strain the oil, discarding the solids.
4. To cook the spaghetti, bring a large pot of amply salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until just shy of al dente and drain, reserve a little of the pasta cooking water.
5. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and cook over medium-high heat, gently tossing the pasta and the sauce together with a couple of wooden spoons and a lot of exaggerated movement until the pasta is just tender and the sauce, if any oil had separated from it, now looks cohesive. (If the sauce seems too thick, add a little pasta cooking liquid to adjust it.) Remove the pan from the heat and toss the butter, basil and cheese with the pasta in the same manner.
6. Drizzle with just a bit of the basil-garlic oil on each plate and serve immediately.
- The sauce yields about 2 1/2 cups. You may use the leftover as dipping sauce for baked mozzarella sticks or spread on bruschetta.
Recipe adapted from Steamy Kitchen