|I don't know that I've ever been happier to be staying home and cleaning the house.|
Being that it is so cold, today is the perfect day to stay in and make a savoury and delicious pasta dish that "is simplicity itself" (can you tell that I've been reading this? It's about a blogger. Shocking, I know).
Be warned that simple doesn't necessarily translate to easy, but it does translate to delicious, and besides, it's minus a bajillion degrees outside, remember? What else are you going to do? I found this recipe on one of my favourite foodie blogs, and it did not disappoint. Time consuming? Yes, but worth it! As Jimmy pointed out: "This is one of the recipes you've made that actually looks like the picture!" While that sounds suspiciously like a back handed compliment, he's right, it looked so . . . restauranty.
Appropriately Modest Tomato Sauce
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen's Naked Tomato Sauce
Makes enough sauce for four pasta portions, but if you're going to the trouble, double the recipe and freeze the leftovers for the next time you need comfort on an icy-blue day.
3 pounds (about 10) Roma tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large clove garlic, crushed
Pinch red pepper flakes
3-5 whole basil leaves, plus 2-3 slivered for garnish
3 tablespoons olive oil
500 gram/1 pound box of spaghetti
1 tablespoon butter, more if you're pregnant
Smitten Kitchen recommends blanching, peeling, and seeding your tomatoes. This is what makes the sauce time consuming. But it may also be what makes it so delicious. Apparently the skins and seeds can make the sauce more acidic. I did as I was told, and like I said, the sauce was de-lish. That being said, I make another sauce that uses Roma tomatoes, skin and seeds intact, and I don't find it acidic, so I think you could skip the blanching, peeling, and seeding, instead coarsely chopping your tomatoes, throwing them into the sauce pan to simmer, and moving on.
If you want to blanch, it's actually easy.
1. Cut a small "X" at the bottom of each tomato. Blanch tomatoes in a large pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds, rinsing under cold water when done. Peel your tomatoes using the easy peel tabs created by your "X". Discard skins.
2. Cut each tomato in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds using a spoon and a small strainer set over a bowl to collect the extra juices. Discard the seeds, and keep the juices. My tomatoes didn't yield much extra juice, but maybe they just weren't very juicy. You may have better luck than I.
If you don't want to blanch, pick it up here:
3. Add tomatoes and salt to a medium saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat. As the tomatoes simmer, break them up with a wooden spoon, or as Smitten Kitchen suggests, a potato masher.
4. Once the sauce has begun to boil, turn heat down to medium-low, and continue to simmer gently for 35-45 minutes, breaking tomatoes up more, depending on how chunky you like your sauce. If the sauce begins to look dry, add your reserved juices.
5. While the sauce cooks, combine garlic, your whole basil leaves, red pepper flakes, and olive oil to a small frying pan. Heat slowly, on the lowest heat so it takes a long time to come to a simmer. Once it's simmering, remove from heat and strain the oil into a small bowl. This flavour infused oil is another reason the sauce is sooo simple (no onion? no carrots? no nothing?) but sooo delicious.
6. When your sauce has been simmering for about 25 minutes, cook your spaghetti according to the directions on the box, minus about 1 minute cooking time so pasta is a little more al dente than usual.
7. Just before pasta is finished cooking, add the reserved olive oil to your sauce, stirring. When pasta is done, drain, reserving about a 1/2 cup of pasta water. Put pasta back into the pot, adding the tomato sauce and about a 1/4 cup of your reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce (I was nervous about the water, but it did not make it watery like I feared), adding more to achieve desired consistency. Cook spaghetti mixture, stirring, for another minute or two, adding your butter and sprinkling with slivered basil just before serving.
Smitten Kitchen says the sauce is rich enough to serve without cheese, but I added cheese anyways. Nothing is too rich for me these days. Blisssss!