The first time I went to Italy, I was 18 years old. While not particularly well-traveled, I knew that the food in Italy wouldn't taste anything like the spaghetti or lasagna my parents made or the stuff they served at Olive Garden (the closest thing to "authentic" my readily available when I grew up). I didn't know how simple and delicious it would actually be. I also had no idea that pasta is generally a first course.
On our first night in Italy, we were served a big plate of pasta and it was so delicious that when the waiters came around asking if anyone wanted any more, we all happily took some. Imagine how surprised (and stuffed!) we were when they took our plates away and brought us each a couple of pieces of roasted chicken and potatoes. We learned our lesson the next night, and while we definitely still over-indulged in every dish of pasta the waiters put in front of us, we knew to save room for the equally delicious second plate that was about to come our way.
I've been trying for a while to make a good spaghetti pomodoro, plain and simple, like what you can find in pretty much every restaurant and cafe across Italy. I tried several recipes with no luck. I think I was over-thinking it. So, one day, I decided to just throw things that made sense into a pot and see what came out. I think I hit it with this one. I'm not saying this is going to be better than your Italian grandmother's, but I'll be flattered if you think it is.
I'm going to submit this to this week's Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by Ruth of the great blog Once Upon a Feast. I haven't participated in a while and am looking forward to getting back into it!
Cook & Prep Time - 15-20 min
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup chicken or veggie stock
salt & pepper
6 basil leaves, chiffonade
dash red pepper flakes
1 lb spaghetti noodles
1 TBSP butter
Cook pasta to al dente. Drain & set aside.
Heat about 1 TBSP olive oil over medium heat. Add the garli and sautee for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the red wine vinegar and cook for about 2 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Add the tomato sauce and stock and stir to combine. Season with salt & pepper, to taste (you shouldn't need much). Add the basil and red pepper flakes and stir. Cook for about 5-10 minutes.
Add the hot pasta to the pot. Top the pasta with about 1 TBSP of butter and toss to combine. Top with freshly grated Parmesan, if desired.