Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rome if You Want to: Pasta al Pomodoro

Rome, Florence, Tuscany- Ryan is one lucky guy and off to be an Italian explorer. His family is going to spend almost two full weeks in the pasta capital of the world- Italy.

So last night- I was excited for him and decided to make pasta. Ryan is a very picky eater, but it seems we are starting to change his ways. Of course, after I made the pasta sauce he told me he usually doesn't like red sauces. There's a long list and I can never keep track. However, he LOVED this one! (He had three helpings!)

Pasta al Pomodoro is similar to a marinara sauce- it's very light. It's foundation is pureed tomatoes, olive oil, onions and garlic. I only had a little bit of basil as we just started planting our garden on Monday, but I highly suggest that you use more than I did. Just a little bit deepened the flavor and complexity of the sauce.

My grandma makes the traditional family pasta sauce- so it will still have to get her seal of approval. Pasta al Pomodoro is a very light sauce as compared to a heavy meat sauce. This is a great dish for a summer dinner. The Dunphys and Ryan didn't leave me any left overs for today so that must say something!

I also love the colors of the dish- even through red and green usually remind me of Christmas, this is different. The red sauce with the green basil just creates a sense of freshness.

Note: Ryan grated our own Parmesan to put in the sauce. You can use "bagged Parmesan" but make sure to put it in the food processor and grate it down a bit.

Pasta al Pomodoro

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 28 ounce can peeled tomatoes, puréed in a food processor
Kosher salt (Do not be sparse with the salt in this case- at least a tablespoon!)
3 large fresh basil sprigs
12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
2 tablespoons cubed unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino


  1. Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a 12" skillet over medium-low heat. Add minced onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 12 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 2-4 minutes. Add crushed red pepper flakes; cook for 1 minute more.
  2. Increase heat to medium, add puréed tomatoes and season lightly with kosher salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly and the flavors meld, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir in basil sprigs, and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a 5-quart pot. Season with salt; add spaghetti or bucatini and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.
  4. Discard basil and heat skillet over high heat. Stir in reserved pasta water to loosen sauce; bring to a boil.
  5. Add pasta and cook, stirring, until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat; add butter and cheese; toss until cheese melts. Transfer to warm bowls; serve with more cheese, if desired.

Refused to cooperate with the photographer haha

Adapted from: Epicurious

Buon appetito!
Chef Maggie

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