If you like simple meals that taste like Italy and can be prepared in 20 minutes or less, then you are going to love this recipe. This dish was inspired by my bestie’s dad. Yes, he is Italian and he also happens to know his way around a kitchen. I grew up eating many of his dishes over the years; some enjoyed at their home, many in their restaurant. The recipe I am sharing with you tops them all as my all-time favorite: tomato basil with angel hair pasta.
I was lucky enough to watch him make this meal for me over 20 years ago and have been making my own version of it ever since. If I can offer one bit of advice, should you decide to give it a go, be sure to use San Marzano tomatoes; any other tomato simply won’t do.
So, without further ado, this is my recipe for tomato basil pasta.
1/4 C. olive oil
5-6 cloves garlic (I prefer thick slices, but you are welcome to chop, dice, or slice however you prefer)
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 28 oz. can San Marzano Tomatoes (I like Cento)
1-2 Tbsp. butter (optional)
salt to taste
1 C. fresh basil
3/4 box angel hair pasta (I prefer Barilla)
Begin by boiling water for your pasta.
Next, pour the olive oil into a heated pan. When the oil is nice and warm, toss in your garlic. When the garlic becomes fragrant and starts to brown, use your slotted spoon and set aside for a moment. This should only take a couple of minutes. Lauren and I are obsessed with garlic. (We do have a bit of a differing of opinions on garlic doneness. If you leave garlic in too long it will become burnt and taste bitter. That is no bueno. However, you can leave it in and let it get crispy, but be sure not to walk away. One moment too long and your garlic can get fried and ruin the whole dish.) This would be the time when you would add chili flakes if you want to add some heat to your sauce.
Once your garlic is removed from the pan, grab the can of San Marzano tomatoes and get ready to get a little dirty…if you want. I squeeze each tomato with my hands as I add them into the pan. You can use the back of a wooden spoon to smash the tomatoes as well–whatever floats your boat.
Add some of the remaining juice from the tomato can but not all. Throw the garlic back in the sauce pan and season with salt. (I have a heavy hand when it comes to salt. Start with a little and taste and add to your desired flavor.) At this point you can plop your butter in if you feel inclined. (Butter is my secret ingredient in all of pasta recipes. Oh lets be honest. Butter is a staple in my cooking. It really adds a richness to the flavor.) Let it melt slowly on its own. When the butter is completely melted, give the sauce a stir. You can let it simmer for as long or as little as you want. The sauce is just about ready. Continue to stir while you wait for your pasta to cook.
At this point, your pasta water should be at a roaring boil. Toss the pasta in and set the timer. Angel hair pasta cooks quickly. (Barilla brand cooks in 4 minutes.)
While you are waiting, cut or chiffonade your basil. (To chiffonade, you simply stack some leaves and then roll and slice into ribbons.) Add half of the basil directly to the sauce and save the rest to sprinkle on the pasta after it has been plated.
When the pasta is ready, quickly strain and run cold water over it so it doesn’t stick together. Angel hair is funny like that. From there, slowly add the pasta to your sauce. Make sure to toss the sauce well with the pasta. Sprinkle with the rest of the basil and some fresh grated Parmesan and serve.
This is the perfect weeknight meal. Quick, easy, and delicious.