Author Notes: This is my tomato base for all my sauce dishes. The dish can be made using ingredients grown on your porch/backyard. Putting in a bit of extra effort cleaning the tomatoes will give you a final product that tastes silky smooth. The use of infused oils highlights the sweetness of the tomatoes and keeps the dish fragrant. It is great in small batches (as described below) and to be stored over a longer period of time. Adapted from Scott Conant and Scarpetta’s Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil. —whatsatomato
Medium-Large Roma Tomatoes
cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
handful Italian (Caesar/Genovese) Basil Leaves
sprigs Fresh Thyme
sprig Fresh Rosemary
Cloves of Garlic
Your favourite dried pasta
Tray of Ice Cubes
tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl with cold water. Add tray of ice cubes to bowl.
- Wash your tomatoes in cool water and then cut an X on the tomato from the opposite side of the stem. Don’t cut too deep, only a finger width deep is necessary.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and place them into the ice bath. Allow the tomatoes to rest in the ice bath for about a minute. DO NOT discard the boiling water, just set it on the back burner on low.
- Once the tomatoes have been skinned, cut the stem portion off the tomato and halve it lengthwise, so that the tomato remains long.
- After about 15-20 minutes, you will want to mash the tomatoes down a bit with a fork or potato masher.
- After another 15-20 minutes, with a hand blender, begin to emulsify the tomatoes into a smooth sauce-like consistency. Set the heat to low and replace the lid, slightly ajar.
- Prepare the ingredients for the infused oil. Chop the garlic cloves and shallots into long into slivers. Take the basil, wash it, and with the back of your knife gently bruise the leaves. Keep the heat as low as possible. You do not want to fry any of the ingredients.
- In a wide frying pan, add the olive oil and set the heat to the lowest possible setting. Add the prepared basil and garlic, crushed chili flakes, bay leaves, sprig of thyme and rosemary to the oil. Try to have the basil leaves as flat as possible in the pan.
- As soon as bubbles begin to form around the basil and garlic, the oil is ready. Pour the contents through a strainer into the sauce, using a spatula to ensure all the oil is added from the pan. Ensure that only the oil is added to the mixture. Discard the solid contents.
Emulsify with hand blender once again to incorporate the oil and replace the lid slightly ajar, keep the set to low.
NOTE: If you are making a large batch, skip the next 4 steps and allow the sauce to simmer for another 10 minutes. Prepare mason jars or any other seal-able container by adding a leaf or two of basil, then filling the container with the sauce.
- Bring the pot that you originally boiled the tomatoes in back to a boil and salt the water. Once boiling, cook your preferred pasta according to the directions given, minus a minute or so from the cooking time. I recommend using spaghetti for the traditionalists, or fusili for those who dislike longer pastas.
- Once cooked, drain the pasta, reserving a small ladle-full of the water to add to the sauce.
- Add the drained pasta directly into the pot containing the sauce, along with a good 2 tablespoons (or more) of butter. Cover and let stand for 3-4 minutes.
- The dish is now ready to serve. Garnish with basil and Parmesan cheese.