The easiest and quickest way to cook spaghetti al sugo di pomodoro
Few things in life can beat a proper plate of spaghetti al sugo di pomodoro (tomato sauce). And as with all best things in life, this one is an incredibly simple, easy and quick dish to prepare. So much so, that I urge you to take that jar of Dolmio, or whatever other aberration of ‘Italian style sauce’ you were about to use, and put it back on the shelf. For this one, you will need a few, good quality ingredients to have a wonderful, cheap and nutritious meal on the table in less than half an hour (that is much quicker than it would take you to order a take away, let’s face it).
Spaghetti al sugo is a staple of the Italian diet, and probably one of the most traditional and famous Italian dishes in the world. It has become a cultural icon, and as such, it deserves to be cooked and eaten with respect (and, possibly, with a nice glass of wine).
This recipe is the simplest way to make it. There are millions of variations on how to do it – for example using fresh tomatoes, or having a soffritto as a base. My recipe, however, is great for those countries that do not get the best fresh tomatoes (hello, Scotland!) so it is necessary to use canned ones. Do not use the cheapest cans you can find here – if possible spend a couple of pounds more and select a nice quality can (or jar). Mutti or Cirio are both great. For this one here I have used tomato passata, but you can also use pomodori pelati and blitz them, so you can get that lovely silky smooth sauce.
The quality of the pasta that you are going to use is also very important. Please do not, I repeat, DO NOT, buy any of those quick-cook spaghetti packs (I mean, who came up with such an idea? How much quicker than 8 minutes can you get??), and in the name of all that is holy do not use any ‘Italian seasoning’ jar. Instead, use some beautiful, fresh basil and grate some parmigiano on top. It doesn’t get much better (and easier) than that.
A quick word about the pasta quantity – you do you. Choose the quantity according to how hungry you are (relax, pasta won’t make you fat! In fact, the Italian football team eats it regularly). Personally, I come from a family of big pasta eaters, so we don’t believe in the standard 70 gr per person. Make sure you have enough sauce to fully cover your pasta, and if you have leftovers, you can make a beautiful frittata di pasta to take to work the next day.
Spaghetti with tomato sauce
- 400 gr Spaghetti
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1 bottle Tomato Passata Choose the simple one with no added ingredients, only tomatoes.
- Fresh Basil
- Olive oil
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- Start by putting a big, wide pot of water to the boil. Since we are using spaghetti here, use the tallest pot you have.
- Peel your garlic cloves, cut them in half and put them in a pan with some olive oil. You want a gentle heat here, in order to not burn the garlic but to gently colour it.
- Cook the garlic very slowly and when it starts to get some colour, slowly pour the passata in. Season with salt, a little pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Add some of your basil here. Let your sugo simmer gently for about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, when your water is boiling, add your spaghetti and cook according to the time instructions on the packet. Keep some of the pasta water aside in a wee mug, it might come in handy later.
- When the pasta is almost ready, remove your garlic and your basil from the sugo (Yes, we do remove the garlic, controversial, I know). Chop some basil leaves and grate generous amounts of parmigiano.
- When your pasta is ready and perfectly al dente, strain it and then put it back in the pan with the sugo. Add your freshly cut basil leaves, loads of parmigiano and enjoy!