Friday, May 5, 2017

Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil

This recipe is one of my favorite simple spaghetti recipes.  It comes from Scarpetta, the famous New York Italian restaurant.  We've never been there to dine, but ran across the recipe and have been truly enjoying it.  The restaurant's website notes that the Italian expression, "fare la scarpetta" is the action of using a piece of bread to soak up the remaining sauce in the pot" and reflects the "indulgent pleasure of savoring a meal down to its very last taste."  The spaghetti dish truly shows this, offering incredible tastes with its finishing combination of pasta, tomato sauce, basil, cheese, butter and olive oil.  And, the smell is fantastic, both while making and while eating!

Spaghetti with tomato and basil

Scarpetto prepares and serves this dish in 3oz. (85 gram) portions.  I often make it with a 1 pound. (.45 kg) box of spaghetti (scaling the recipe appropriately), but we now have 1/2 a box, about 8 ounces/0.23 kg. of spaghetti left over from when we recently made a Provençal Vegetable Soup with Garlic-Basil Pesto (Soup au Pistou) and decide to make a two-serving portion.

First, we make a tomato sauce, using 6-8 ripe plum tomatoes (if not in season, use canned San Marzano tomatoes, or a mixture of the two).  Core each plum tomato, score the bottom with an "X", and place in boiling water for 15-30 seconds, until the skin starts to split.  Allow the tomatoes to cool, then peel, cut in half, and remove the seeds.

Starting with the plum tomatoes

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pot and cook the tomatoes for about 30 minutes, flavored with salt and chili flakes, using a potato masher to break them up, smashing and stirring until reduced and smooth.

 Tomatoes into sauce

Meanwhile, prepare basil-garlic oil by slowly cooking 1/4 cup of olive oil in a small pot with 6 whole garlic cloves, 2 stems of basil, and a pinch of red chili flakes.  Allow this to simmer for about 25 minutes, until the garlic starts to brown, cool a few minutes, then strain out the garlic and basil and combine the remaining oil with the tomatoes.  Flavor to taste with salt and pepper and the sauce is ready.

Basil-garlic olive oil

Tomato sauce and basil-garlic olive oil

Prepare the ingredients to be added to the pasta, 10 or so basil leaves, rolled and thin cut lengthwise, 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano, a tablespoon of butter, and two tablespoons of olive oil.

Boil the spaghetti until just shy of al dente, around 8 minutes for the 1/2 box we have.  When ready, drain the pasta, reserving some water, and add it to the  sauce, along with a bit of the reserved water. Continue cooking the pasta and sauce a few minutes (adding more pasta water if needed), until the pasta is ready and is well-mixed with the sauce, then add the basil, cheese, butter, and olive oil.

Cooking pasta, warming sauce

Final ingredients

All together now

Plate and serve.


No comments:

Post a Comment