Consider this the smooth-talking, glossed-up equivalent of my own marinara sauce recipe. Although my personal tomato sauce preferences skew more towards the “rustic” (read: chunky) end of the texture spectrum, it is my understanding that some individuals on this planet will only eat tomatoes when they have been thoroughly pureed and no longer harbor any of their delightful tomato-y squish. Should you also fall into this odd little camp of people, or if you would perhaps like a pasta pomodoro that is arguably just a little bit more upscale than the roasted/rustic version, this is likely the better recipe option for you to steer towards.
BA’s Best: Pasta Pomodoro
Taken from BA’s Best arsenal, with the most minor of tweaks here and there
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional but strongly recommended)
3 large basil sprigs
12 oz bucatini or spaghetti (this is about ¾ of a 500 gr box)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese + more for serving
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-low heat. Cook the onion until soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. While the onion cooks, dump the canned tomatoes (and their juices) into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Set aside while you move back to the onions. Add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes, but do not let the garlic take on too much colour. Season with a pinch of kosher salt before adding the red pepper flakes and cooking for another minute. Increase the heat to medium and add the pureed tomatoes to the skillet. Season with a generous pinch of kosher salt and cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the basil sprigs (whole). Let the sauce sit uncovered until ready to reheat.
Set a large pot of well-salted water to boil over high heat (this means you need to add more salt than you probably feel comfortable with – just do it – this is the only point where you really get to season the pasta itself). Cook the pasta, stirring occasionally until the noodles are quite al dente (check the package instructions for your brand and type of noodle, but I found that 5 minutes was about right). Just before the pasta finishes cooking, scoop out a cupful of the starchy water and set aside. Drain the pasta, but do not rinse it or do any other such foolish thing. Pluck the basil sprigs from the tomato sauce and stir ½ cup of the starchy pasta water into the sauce to loosen it. Place the skillet back over a hot burner and bring to a boil. Add the drained pasta to the boiling sauce and cook for 2 minutes, stirring until the noodles are tender and slicked with sauce. Remove the pan from the heat, add the butter and cheese, and toss well until both are melted and incorporated into the sauce. Divide the pasta among bowls and sprinkle with extra Parmesan or Pecorino. Gaze begrudgingly and judgmentally at that half-eaten jar of store-bought tomato sauce in your fridge. Never again.