Bacon pasta with tomato sauce + the most luscious basic tomato sauce recipe!
Is anyone else excited for the new Game of Thrones episode? (of course you are). Meanwhile, this is what we're making...
Tomato sauce + pasta is definitely one of our kitchen staples (as they are for most people), and for good reason: it's an inexpensive, highly adaptable & hearty meal that you can get ready in no time. Now, as I know, in the kitchen world, people can get really snobby and mad about what's "classic Italian" or not... I've been to Italy, I've tasted some tomato sauces, I know the drill. I don't claim this to be any kind of Italian sauce specifically, but I will tell you this: I've been working on my ultimate tomato sauce recipe for years, and now I think I've finally got it...
Pasta with tomato sauce (and bacon, if you want)
recipe from my kitchen
time it takes: about 30 minutes total (not including eating)
serves 2 portions + a bit of leftovers!
- 400 gr (4 cups) of dry pasta (spaghetti, penne, rigatoni... choose your favorite or mix them up!)
- 2 cans of 400g (2 cups total) of whole tomatoes
- 2 small onions or 1 big one
- 3 cloves of garlic
- oregano or basil - or both! (dry is good)
- 2 knobs of butter (about a tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- a bit of olive oil (use regular oil if you don't have it)
- 2-3 dry peperoncini or ground cayenne pepper, if you like things spicy
- bacon, cut into bits (size is your preference) and roasted in a pan with a bit of oil
- grated parmesan cheese
I'd like to mention some things before we start making the most delicious pasta sauce your kitchen has ever seen.
If you don't like garlic or onion, leave them out (although we will roast them in a pan so you won't feel any raw garlic or onion in your mouth), but if you're too lazy to peel, chop and grind, please get over it this time, it's worth it, I promise!
I like to use whole canned tomatoes as opposed to tomato passata (liquid tomato puree) because for one, the puree has a TON of water in it that will never cook down in time, and it takes away a lot from the flavor. It's worth to buy them and quickly blend them yourself, this goes for almost any tomato sauce.
As for using fresh tomatoes, unless you have plump, tasty, quality heirloom tomatoes that beg to be made into sauce where you live, use canned, they are a ton better than most tomatoes you find - aim for an Italian brand
The little bit of butter and sugar helps a lot in taking away the big acidity in the tomato sauce (the kind that sometimes gives you stomach troubles) and it makes a big difference in obtaining a smooth, silky sauce.
Alright, let's start up.
1. Boil a big pot of water with a bunch of salt in it. Nigella Lawson was saying how she read that in Italy they think the water the pasta cooks in should be as salty as the Mediterranean sea, which is such a gorgeous metaphor for life and culture and the world. However, you should wait until the water boils to add the salt, as salted water comes to the boil slower. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions (never overboil it, it becomes limp and tasteless and it breaks). Remember, you're not actually cooking the pasta, you are re-hydrating it. My advice is to always undercook it by 1 minute less than what it says on the box, because it will absorb some of the tomato sauce too when it's transferred. Give it a good stir after you put the dry pasta in the water, so it doesn't cling together.
2. While that's happening, peel the onions and garlic. Chop the onions as finely as you can with your best knife, and grind the garlic as fine as you can as well. (you can see above I grind my garlic very easily in the blue press that I got as a gift from my mom)
3. Take a medium pot or a pan with higher sides, put it on medium heat, pour a bit of oil in there and then add the chopped onions and minced garlic. Mix around, do not let it burn. Add the first knob of butter (it keeps the oil from burning)
4. Ready the tomato sauce as I said above (blend it with an immersion hand blender or whatever you have in your kitchen), and after the onions and garlic have cooked, place the tomato sauce in. Mix it up, add a bit of oregano or basil, and let it simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally (cover if you have a lid and don't want bubbly tomato sauce all over your stove and kitchen), then when it's hot, add the other bit of butter and the tablespoon of sugar. Add some salt, too (but not too much since the pasta will absorb some of the salt from the water it's boiling in). Add some more dried oregano or basil. It should be on the stove, simmering, for about 20 minutes. Cook the bacon in another frying pan, if using, like stated above.
5. Drain the pasta and add it immediately to the sauce. Mix it around, let it dance in the luscious sauce. After a couple of minutes, you're ready to plate up and eat! Add the crispy bacon bits on top (in the plate, don't mix with the sauce or it will boil and have a horrendous texture) and grated parmesan cheese, if using. That's it!
Let me know how this recipe turned out for you if you made it! Do you have any secrets for your tomato sauce?
P.S. This would be a great recipe to make if you have guests or you're entertaining! Check out this post to find out more!