Sunday, May 27, 2012

My Basic Italian Spaghetti

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Spaghetti was one of my favorite dishes to cook growing up. Our family version is made by buying a prepackaged meat sauce and adding tons of processed cheese (the Velveeta type) and flooding it with slices of hotdogs and ground beef. That was considered the typical spaghetti dish that was also high end. The addition of hotdogs made it so. I also learned how to make spaghetti with liver paste and even with condensed milk. Don't laugh, it is normal here in the Philippines. You also get to love spaghetti made with banana ketchup if you are short on budget. With this ever changing variation on the recipe, my first foray into real Italian spaghetti was quite a revelation to me. I also could not believe that it was actually quite simple. 

Now, what led to this posting? Simply put: excess basil leaves. I had thought of making osso bucco but I had saved that for next week so I settled for good ole' spaghetti. I also have a few cans of whole tomatoes plus a good chunk of Pecorino Romano cheese so spaghetti was the obvious choice. I do want to add something to it though and yes, this is allowed: toasted bread crumbs. I've seen Lidia do this so I don't think I'll be breaking any strict rules with regards to making spaghetti. By the way, I'm dropping Lidia Bastianich's name like we are friends but I can assure you, she has no idea who I am. Anyway, on to the recipe.

My Basic Italian Spaghetti

1-32 oz whole tomatoes, canned
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup tomato sauce
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 cup toasted bread crumbs
Pecorino Romano, grated
3 tbsp olive oil plus more for drizzling
2 lbs dried spaghetti
1-2 tbsp of white sugar
2 cups hot water
handful of Basil leaves (tear into smaller slices if needed) 

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and
    cook until lightly browned. Add the oregano and saute for one minute.

2. Crush the canned tomatoes with your hands and add to the pot together 
    with its liquid. Add the tomato sauce and season salt and pepper. 

3. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to low. Cover and let simmer for 30 

4. Add the hot water and the tomato paste and stir. Check for flavor and 
    add the sugar to balance the tartness of the sauce. Let simmer on the 

5. In a large pot filled with water, bring the water to a boil at medium high 
    heat. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add 2 tbsp of salt and add 
    the dried pasta. 

6. Cook the pasta until just al dente. Transfer the pasta to the sauce to 
    finish cooking until al dente. Add more of the pasta water if necessary. 

7. To finish, add the toasted bread crumbs and mix well. Turn off the heat 
    and add the grated cheese. Toss to mix.

8. Add the basil leaves  and toss until the leaves just wilt. Dress with more 
    olive oil and serve passing more Pecorino Romano on the table.

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