The first issue of the "new" Bon Appétit is The Italy Issue, packed full of so many tempting pastas, like the Fettuccine with Prosciutto and Orange I made recently, and Spaghetti alle Vongole; irresistible desserts, like Chocolate Tiramisu, Ricotta Cheesecake, Zeppole with Chocolate Sauce, and healthy summer salads, like delicious Raw Artichoke, Celery, and Parmesan Salad, and Shaved Asparagus with Parmesan Vinaigrette. I particularly enjoyed the touching article Blood, Bones & Baked Eggplant, about chef/author Gabrielle Hamilton, and her reunion with her ex-husband's mother for a traditional Sunday lunch in Rome. Not too long ago, Saveur published an article about Gabrielle, featuring Brown Butter Pasta with Pine Nuts and Fried Egg. I enjoy reading stories behind recipes, and that's what the new Bon Appétit promises to deliver.
The recipe I chose for some comfort this week is very simple, as portrayed on the cover, but I've never quite been able to replicate the version I enjoy so much at our local Italian hang. Until now.
Pasta al Pomodoro
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can whole peeled Italian tomatoes, puréed in a food processor
3 large fresh basil sprigs
12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino
Basil chiffonade and extra grated Parmesan for serving
Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a 12" skillet over medium-low heat. Add minced onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 12 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 2-4 minutes. Add crushed red pepper flakes; cook for 1 minute more. Increase heat to medium, add puréed tomatoes and season lightly with kosher salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly and the flavors meld, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir in basil sprigs, and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add spaghetti or bucatini and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.
Discard basil and heat skillet over high heat. Stir in reserved pasta water to loosen sauce; bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring, until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat; add butter and cheese; toss until cheese melts. Transfer to warm bowls; top with basil chiffonade and serve with more cheese, if desired.
After reading Pasta Perfect, a BA Cooking Manifesto, I now know how to make the simplest, most luxurious sauces imaginable.
- Forget the pot. Use a pan.
- Build the Foundation.
- You're not using nearly enough salt.
- Don't dump the pasta water.
- Trust the tongs.
- Now work that pan. It's where the magic happens.
- Everything's better with butter.
- Cheese is not just a garnish.
- It should look as good as it tastes.
- Practice makes perfect pasta.
Thank you, Bon Appétit, I'm looking forward to cooking more of the food I'll want to cook for the rest of my life.