Simple as it may be, spaghetti pomodoro is a meatless classic. But because of its simplicity, restaurant tycoon Joe Bastianich recommends using the finest ingredients available to you for maximum taste, such as San Marzano tomatoes.
For the Pomodoro Sauce:
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 16-oz can whole Italian tomatoes
1 tsp. oregano (optional)
Heat oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Crush two garlic cloves with the heel of your hand. Add to olive oil and sauté until golden brown. While the garlic browns, pour the tomatoes into a bowl. Squeeze with your hands to break them up. Once the garlic is browned, add tomatoes and their juice to the sauce pan with the garlic. Add salt and pepper (and oregano if using). Simmer over low heat for 45 minutes, adding water to keep the sauce from becoming too thick. Pomodoro sauce should be a rich red color. If it turns brick red, it’s too thick. Additional salt and pepper to taste if necessary.
Cook’s Note: For convenience, make up a large batch and freeze smaller portions in freezer bags.
For the Pasta:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb spaghetti or spaghetti alla chitarra (a specialty square-cut version)
A few basil leaves
Grana Padano for grating
Prepare pomodoro sauce as directed above. While it simmers, heat water for pasta. Add enough salt to the pasta to make it as salty as seawater. In a sauce pan, heat up olive oil. Add pomodoro sauce (one half cup per serving) and simmer. When the pasta water is at a full boil, add pasta. Two minutes before the pasta is ready, remove from boiling water and add to the pomodoro sauce. Cook pasta until tender in the saucepan, allowing it to absorb the flavor and color of the sauce. Add a little pasta water if needed to keep the sauce liquid. When the pasta is done, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with shredded basil leaves and Grana Padano.
Cook’s Notes: To turn pomodoro sauce into oreganata sauce, add several sprigs of fresh oregano to the pomodoro while it simmers. Remove before serving. To make arrabbiata sauce, add hot pepper flakes to basic pomodoro sauce and simmer.