Practically Perfect Pasta

I know we’ve all been there.  You look in your pantry and refrigerator trying to decide, “What’s for dinner?”  This was my predicament last night.  It was 7:00 pm and I was hungry.  Time to make something, but what?

I thought of a dinner I had made for my parents years ago when they visited me.  Center stage starred a simple tomato sauce consisting of basic ingredients that I keep in the house all the time.  Tomatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil, butter, dry oregano, dry basil, red pepper flakes, and sea salt and pepper.  Angle hair pasta with its quick cooking time, light resilient texture, and ability to absorb the sauce into it as it finish cooking is my go to pasta for this dish.  A dish inspired by the no nonsense cooks of Italy.

The key to a dish like this is quality of ingredients.  Full flavored and delicious on their own.  The tomatoes: the very last one that had ripened on the counter from my summer garden.  The Olive Oil: Pompeian Extra Virgin – First Cold Press, with its peppery, grassy, and buttery notes.  Fresh Garlic, Red Onion, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Dry Oregano and Basil,  Red Pepper Flakes, and a touch of Unsalted Butter to add a richer body to the dish.  The sauce is light in color but big on flavor following the steps insures best results and flavor.

The proof that the simple use of quality ingredients can create flavorful dishes was my partner exclaiming, “This is the best pasta I’ve ever had!”

This is a meal that you could make within 15 minutes from start to finish if you have everything prepped and ready to go.  A simple mixed green salad tossed with a vinaigrette would be the perfect complement to this pasta dish.

Equipment:

  • 12 inch Saute Pan with lid
  • 8 qt. Pot with lid
  • Chefs Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Tongs

Fresh Tomato Sauce with Angel Hair Pasta (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup    Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Pinch        Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2 lg.      Red Onion (Finely diced)
  • 6 ea.        Garlic Cloves (Thinly sliced)
  • 3 lbs.       Tomatoes (Coarsely chopped, any ripe and flavorful tomato will work)
  • 1 tsp.       Dry Basil (rubbed between your hands to a powder)
  • 1/2 tsp.    Dry Oregano (rubbed between your hands to a powder)
  • 2 Tbsp.     Butter (unsalted, room temperture)
  • 1 lb.         Angel Hair Pasta
  • Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Assembling the dish:

  1. Fill the 8 qt. pot with 6 quarts of water.  Place on the stove over high heat to bring to a boil while you prepare the sauce.
  2. Place the 12 inch saute pan on the stove and heat over medium heat until hot.
  3. Add the olive oil to the saute pan, the oil should shimmer as it spreads over the surface of the pan.
  4. Add the red pepper flakes and toast lightly for a few seconds
  5. Add to the saute pan the red onions and garlic.  There should be a nice sizzle sound.  Adjust the heat if necessary.  Season with salt to draw out the water from the ingredients.  Saute for 4 to 6 minutes or until transparent.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes, rubbed basil and oregano, salt, and black pepper.  Toss with tongs and cover with the lid.
  7. Simmer over medium high heat for 4 to 6 minutes.  The tomatoes will break down creating the sauce.
  8. Uncover the 8 qt. pot.  To the boiling water of 8 qt. pot add 1 Tbsp. of salt and then 1 lb. of angel hair pasta.  Stir to separate and cover with the lid to bring back to the boil.  It should take about 3 minutes to reach al dente stage.  This is desired since the pasta will finish cooking in the sauce.
  9. Uncover the saute pan and let the sauce reduce as the pasta cooks.
  10. After the pasta has cooked to al dente.  Turn off the heat to the 8 qt. pot and use the tongs to lift all the pasta from the boiling water an into the sauce in the saute pan.
  11. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the saute pan and toss the pasta with the sauce.  The pasta water will give a nice body to the sauce.
  12. Cooking and tossing until the sauce is absorbed by the pasta.  2 to 3 minutes.
  13. Remove from the heat and add the butter and toss to coat the pasta.  Check for seasoning.
  14. Serve hot from the pan in heated bowls.  Top with grated Parmigiano Reggiano if desired.
  15. Enjoy!
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