Classic Tomato Spaghetti
There’s nothing like a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce to get the family gathered around the table. Serve this simple recipe as-is or dress it up with other ingredients like spinach, arugula or peas. This recipe comes to us from Jamie Oliver.
Cooking Tip of the Week: From Jamie Oliver: “It’s important to season the cooking water with salt before you start so that the pasta can absorb it as it cooks.”
Food for Thought: Tomatoes can grow on tall vines or bushy plants, depending on the type of tomato. But all tomatoes love hot weather! That’s why tomatoes are “in season” at the end of the summer in most parts of the United States, because they’ve had lots of hot weather to help them get nice and ripe. That’s why this recipe offers a choice between canned tomatoes and fresh ones. Depending on the season of the year and where you live, canned tomatoes might be easier to find.
Family Dinner Conversation Starter: What happens to our bodies when we eat unhealthy food most of the time? How can eating healthy food help?
- 1⁄2 a bunch of fresh basil
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 1⁄4 pounds ripe tomatoes or 2 (14-ounce) cans of whole peeled tomatoes
- olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar
- 1 pound dried whole wheat spaghetti
- 1⁄2 ounce Parmesan cheese
Together: Pick the basil leaves (reserving a few baby leaves to garnish), then roughly chop the remaining leaves and finely chop the stalks.
Together: Peel and thinly slice the onion and garlic. If using fresh, cut the tomatoes in half, then roughly chop them or open the cans of tomatoes.
Adult: Put a saucepan on a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil and the onion, then cook for around 7 minutes, or until soft and lightly golden.
Together: Stir in the garlic and basil stalks for a few minutes, then add the fresh or canned tomatoes and the vinegar. If using canned tomatoes, break them up with the back of a wooden spoon.
Together: Season with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, then continue cooking for around 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Together: Stir in the chopped basil leaves, then reduce to low and leave to tick away. Meanwhile…
Adult: Bring a large pot of salted water up to a boil, then add the spaghetti and cook following the package instructions – you want to cook your pasta until it is al dente. This translates as ‘to the tooth’ and means that it should be soft enough to eat, but still have a bit of a bite and firmness to it. Use the timings on the package instructions as a guide, but try some just before the time is up to make sure it’s perfectly cooked.
Adult: Once the pasta is done, ladle out and reserve a cup of the cooking water and keep it to one side, then drain in a colander or sieve over the sink.
Together: Add a splash of pasta water to the sauce if it’s a bit thick. Tip in the spaghetti and use tongs to toss well, adding a splash of the pasta water to loosen, if needed.
Kid: Serve with the reserved basil leaves sprinkled over the top and finely grate over the Parmesan cheese.