The last time I tried to make my own spaghetti sauce it ended in disaster. The whole apartment smelled like warm tomato juice, and not in a good way. I have two tips for you if your cooking experience consists of assembling cooked pasta with a can of store-bought sauce. First, don’t cook hungry. I’m almost positive the reason why my first sauce didn’t work out was because I was already hungry, cranky, and impatient. Today we had a late lunch, and at 6pm neither of us were hungry. But I was bored, so I thought why not tackle another pasta sauce. When I was done making the meal, Drew commented that he still wasn’t that hungry yet. Ten minutes later, both of us had finished our bowls.
My second tip is that you should do basic research on the components of your recipe and find out why certain ingredients are included, if they aren’t already explained in your cookbook. I made a variation of the “Spaghetti with Salsa di Pomodoro” recipe from my Williams-Sonoma Italian cookbook. The onions and carrots add a sweet flavor to the sauce that balances out the acidity of the main ingredient, which is tomatoes. I made some changes and added fresh garlic just because I had some. I also ignored the snooty suggestions from my cookbook, like only “use vine-ripened plum tomatoes in summer and the best-quality canned tomatoes, such as Italy’s superb San Marzano variety, the rest of the year.” I literally used the cheapest version of these ingredients that exist at your average grocery store, and it still tasted delicious. I can only imagine how it would taste with all the best ingredients.
Ingredients (makes 4-6 servings, I cut it in half for 2)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2lb (1 large can) Roma tomatoes, chopped
Salt & Pepper (sea salt if you’re fancy)
Fresh basil leaves, shredded (I just used dried basil leaves from my spice rack)
Grated Parmigiano cheese
1lb spaghetti (I used angel hair)
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in large frying pan, add chopped carrots, onion, and garlic and stir frequently until carrots are tender. 10-15 minutes.
Add tomatoes, salt, and pepper and cook on high until the sauce bubbles. Then reduce to low and simmer, stirring occasionally. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.
While the sauce simmers on low, boil water with a few dashes of salt and then cook the pasta until al dente. Once the pasta is done (you can always use my favorite test–throw a noodle against the wall and see if it sticks), if the sauce looks too thick for you, drain most of the water from the pot but leave a little bit left with the pasta. Pour pasta and leftover water (if necessary) into the sauce and toss in the pan, heat on low. Add the basil and remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.
Toss again, then remove from heat and add 1/2 cup cheese. Then serve immediately. You can also put more cheese and basil on top of the pasta in the bowl if you want it to look pretty for serving to guests.