A Spaghetti You'll Never Forgetti
- Equal amount celery, diced small
- ½ onion, preferably yellow or white, diced small
- Equal amount carrot (if needed) diced small
- 2-3 cloves of smashed garlic, skins removed
- 28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes
- Handful of freshly grated or microplaned parmigiano or pecorino if desired, plus more for topping.
- 100 grams of bronze-die extruded pasta per person, long or short. Almost any shape works with plain tomato sauce. Bronze-die extruded pasta has a coarser exterior and is generally higher quality, allowing the sauce to better adhere to the noodle.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Basil, if desired
- Red pepper flakes, if desired
- Wide, shallow sauté pan
- Immersion blender
- Food scale
- Sauce pan
Smash garlic, remove skins, and put in room temperature wide, shallow saute pan with soffritto (Italian mirepoix: small diced celery, carrot, and onion) on low. Turn on heat and cook low and slow till soffritto and garlic are melty, tender, and not caramelized at all. Add some salt towards the end. If desired, add some crushed red pepper flakes until just fragrant and toasty looking. Crush tomatoes with hands into pan. Taste tomatoes before they really start cooking. Good San Marzano tomatoes will be sweet and won’t need much cooking. You’re really just trying to get rid of any acidity. Bring briefly up to a boil and then shut off.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of water up to a boil. Salt abundantly once boiling and TASTE! The water should taste like the sea.
Add noodles. If they are long noodles, don’t break them like some kind of monster. Long is bellissimo (lovely). Stir once or twice about a minute after adding. Cook until they taste about 3 minutes until being done.
Meanwhile, remove and store extra pasta sauce for future use. You should only need enough to just cover the pasta here, to stain it. Italian pasta doesn’t use a ton of sauce. Bring the remaining sauce back to a boil. This should come up to a boil simultaneously with when the noodles are 3 minutes out. Then add the noodles to the sauce, along with enough water from the pasta pot to cover the noodles. Keep on high and add water as needed so that the pan doesn’t dry out. Cook until noodles taste done and the sauce is cooked down to the right texture. It should be a little starchy and a little shimmery, and cling to the noodles. If it’s watery and sliding off the noodles, cook a tad more. This part should take about 5 minutes as tomatoes slow down the process of cooking starches.
Nota bene (note well): A trick here is to keep the sauce/pasta mixture just the tiniest bit wet. This will take some getting the hang of. The reason for this is that the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools, plus it will get more viscous when you add a glug of olive oil and a handful of freshly grated parmigiano or pecorino, which you are about to do.
Turn the heat off. Add some freshly torn basil leaves if desired. Add a glug of olive oil. Add a handful of freshly grated parmigiano or pecorino. Flip pasta in pan until sauce ingredients are emulsified using a flipping motion or gently tossing with tongs. Transfer to a plate or bowl. Add additional basil as garnish. If you have a bit of excess sauce, don’t forget to fare la scarpetta (scrape the plate) with some bread!