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Spaghetti With Fresh Tomato Sauce and Basil

Notes: 

Total Prep: Roughly 40 minutes, 4 servings

This is a straightforward, traditional, fresh tomato sauce in which ripe tomatoes -- and little else -- get cooked quickly to retain their vibrant flavor. Why then is it such a hit? The key is in the finish. Here's how I put the dish together at the restaurant: I take a single portion of pasta cooked just shy of al dente and add it to a sauté pan that holds a single portion of hot, bubbling tomato sauce. To toss the pasta and sauce together I use that pan-jerking method we chefs are so fond of. I do this to look cool. Just kidding. The real reason is that this technique not only coats the pasta evenly with the sauce, but it also introduces a little air into the process making the dish feel lighter and brighter. To accomplish this aeration with larger portions and without fancy wrist work, cook the sauce in a pan with a lot of surface area. When you add the pasta to the sauce, gently toss the pasta with a couple of wooden spoons (tongs can bruise and break the strands), lifting the pasta high above the bottom of the pot. Finish the dish with some butter, some cheese, and some basil.

By Scott Conant

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Ingredients: 

About 20 ripe plum tomatoes

About 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to finish the dish

Pinch of crushed red pepper

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbs. unsalted butter 1 oz. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about half a cup)

6 to 8 fresh basil leaves well washed and dried, stacked and rolled into a cylinder and cut thinly crosswise into a chiffonade

1 lb. spaghetti, either high-quality dry or homemade


 

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