1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves peeled
2 cans Peeled whole plum tomatoes peeled, such as Di Napoli (28-ounce)
3 cups Water
1/2 bunch Fresh basil (leaves only) torn into pieces
1 pound Spaghetti
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese freshly grated
freshly ground pepper to taste
hot red pepper flakes to taste
- Break open each tomato and remove the seeds. Drop the tomatoes into a bowl. When all the tomatoes are seeded, break them up with your hands and strain the juice back over them.
- Smash the garlic with the side of a chef’s knife and smear it slightly with a sprinkling of kosher salt. Combine the garlic with the oil and heat in a large heavy-bottomed saucepot over medium-low heat. Cover and stew slowly until soft and melted in texture but not browned. About 10 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, their juice and the water. Season with some salt, pepper and a touch of chili flake. Bring to a boil and skim the foam but not the oil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook uncovered until the oil has emulsified with the rest of the sauce and reduced by approximately two thirds, about forty –five minutes. Remove from heat and stir-in the basil leaves.
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling lightly salted water for six minutes (pasta won’t be completely cooked). Drain and save 10-12 oz of the cooking water.
- Ladle desired quantity of sauce into a saute pan. Add a pinch of chili flake and then the partially cooked pasta to the sauce along with a few ounces of pasta cooking water and bring to a boil. Continue to cook rapidly for approximately five more minutes. Add more pasta water during this time if necessary. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and chili flake to taste. Just before plating add a drizzle of finishing oil and a couple of torn basil leaves.
- This process allows the pasta to actually absorb some of the sauce. Additionally, the pasta releases starch which thickens the sauce and helps it cling to the pasta. This way it doesn’t run off of the spaghetti and sit on the bottom of the bowl.
- The result should be juicy and shiny and full of flavor, but with no residual sauce. All of the sauce should be contained within the body of the spaghetti. The last bite of pasta should bring the last bit of sauce with it.