Perfect Pasta Al Pomodoro

This recipe was staring me down when it arrived in my mail box. A glorious photo of perfect strands of bucatini dressed in a silky, bright tomato sauce. It was simple and looked like it came straight from the cute, Italian speaking waiter serving you at a side street cafe in Rome. At least that is what I imagined when I saw it, but it really was just the cover story on the latest Bon Appetit. The entire issue was dedicated to all things Italy and filled with great tips on perfecting how to make pasta. This recipe allows you to try to make pasta the way you get it in Italy or even your favorite Italian restaurant. You know how even spaghetti with tomato sauce tastes a bit better in a restaurant than at home? Well with a few steps, you can do it too. This pasta, a glass of red, and time to enjoy it will make you a very happy person. Promise.

Pasta Al Pomodoro
Bon Appetit May 2011
serves 4

Heat 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil in a 12" skillet over medium low heat. Add 1 minced medium onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 12 minutes. Add 4 minced garlic cloves and cook, stirring, for 2-4 minutes. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes; cook for 1 minute more.

Increase heat to medium, add one 28 oz. can peeled tomatoes, pureed in a food processor, 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 3 large basil sprigs, and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add 12 oz. bucatini or spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. (you should just see a bit of white when you break a strand) Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup 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; add 2 Tbsp. cubed unsalted butter and 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan; toss until cheese melts. Transfer to warm bowls; serve with more cheese, if desired.


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