spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce and basil

September 27th, 2009 · 45 Comments

and if you think that sounds ordinary, then boy are you wrong. you’re even so wrong that you’ve got no idea just how wrong you really are. because this is scott conant’s recipe from scarpetta – and it is beyond wonderful. this plate of food along with a glass of something very worthwhile – and i am telling you, there could be nothing better. different? perhaps. but better? impossible.

the entire dish consists of 9 ingredients. including the pasta, oil, salt and pepper… the other 5 are tomatoes, basil leaves, crushed red pepper, a bit of parmigiano – and a bit of butter. but it’s the way it’s done – the simple technique that makes it superior. of course, at the end of the day it’s all in the excellence of the ingredients along with impeccable execution. thank you and good night.

and then i did something that i never do. something i’ve steadily refused to do. but i went ahead and i did it. because scott said to – and i knew there was no way around it…

i know. CRAZY right? i skinned those fuckers. despite all past declarations i went there. and i must tell you that for this dish there is just no getting around it. boil the damn water that you’ll later use for the pasta, blanch your tomatoes and then plunge them into a waiting bowl of ice water. it’s not even a deal breaker. who knew?

scarpetta’s tomato and basil spaghetti
by scott conant via good morning america’

about 20 ripe plum tomatoes
about 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to finish the dish
a pinch of crushed red pepper
# Kosher salt
black pepper, freshly ground
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 ounce parmigiano, freshly grated (about 1/2 cup)
about 7 fresh basil leaves, well washed and dried, stacked and rolled into a cylinder and cut thinly crosswise into a chiffonade
1 pound spaghetti, either high-quality dry or homemade

to peel the tomatoes: bring a large pot of water to a boil. have a large bowl of ice water nearby. cut a small x on the bottom of each tomato. ease about five tomatoes in the pot and cook, let boil for about 15 seconds, and then promptly move them to the waiting ice water. (do this with the remaining tomatoes.) pull off the skin with the tip of a paring knife. if the skin sticks, try a vegetable peeler using a gentle sawing motion. cut the tomatoes in half and use your finger to flick out the seeds.

to cook the tomatoes: In a wide pan, heat the 1/3 cup of olive oil over medium-high heat until quite hot. add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and season lightly with the salt and pepper. (i always start with a light hand with the salt and pepper because as the tomatoes reduce, the salt will become concentrated.) Let the tomatoes cook for a few minutes to soften. then, using a potato masher, chop the tomatoes finely. cook the tomatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened. (you can make the sauce, which yields about 3 cups, ahead of time. refrigerate it for up to 2 days or freeze it for longer storage.)

to serve: bring a large pot of amply salted water to a boil. cook the spaghetti until just shy of al dente. reserve a little of the pasta cooking water. add the pasta to the sauce and cook over medium-high heat, gently tossing the pasta and the sauce together with a couple of wooden spoons and a lot of exaggerated movement (you can even shake the pan) until the pasta is just tender and the sauce, if any oil had separated from it, now looks cohesive. (if the sauce seems too thick, add a little pasta cooking liquid to adjust it.) take the pan off of the heat and toss the butter, basil, and cheese with the pasta in the same manner (the pasta should take on an orange hue) and serve immediately.

do not adapt. do not adjust. can i ask you to just follow this one AS IS? the reason being that it is simply and truly exceptional. because i know you. YES YOU. so do not omit the pepper flakes or even think of adding garlic. just let it be, people. just let it be…

scott says that ‘the key is in the finish’ so just do what the man says and you will be loved by the masses. trust me on this one. when you can make something so incredibly simple taste SO MUCH BETTER than the next guy’s tomato sauce on pasta…

that right there is totally cool. i don’t care who you are…

as an afterthought, i thought i’d share with you the dorkiest of food blogger photos that i took with my own two hands.

and then i woke up and got a life.

i mean, is that precious or what?


Tags: pasta · tomatoes

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