“Butta la pasta!” is an expression in Italian which means throw in the pasta. This was what the farmer would yell from the field on his way in. I like to say this for the simplest, fastest pasta sauces like this one. In the time it takes to make the sauce the pasta is cooked!!
This is a variation on a typical pasta with a simple pomodoro (tomato) sauce. I have taken a combination of sun dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, garlic, chili flakes, fresh basil and great extra virgin olive oil to create a fast dinner. You can add a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of Parmesano Reggiano to finish this classic. You can also use a penne or spaghetti pasta if you prefer but, try this. The sun dried tomatoes add another layer of flavour and the olive oil creates a simple glorious sauce.
You will need:
- 250 grams or half a box/bag of dried pasta – I used a Casarecce which is a tube shaped like an S
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (bit more to serve) – I used a robust Mandranova Nocellara
- 1-2 ripe tomatoes – I want to have a fruit with lots of water (chopped = around 1 cup)
- 1/2 tsp hot chili flakes (peperoncino)
- 6 sun dried tomatoes soaked in oil – chopped finely
- 3-4 cloves garlic – sliced or rough chop
- 1 tsp dry oregano
- 1 tsp Italian or Tuscan dry seasoning mix
- generous sprinkling of salt and pepper
- 2-3 tbsp sliced basil for serving
- 4 tbsp of freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (grate it yourself for best taste)
- 1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar (optional*)
Step 1: in a large pot of boiling, heavily salted water cook your pasta according to directions on package. You want your pasta to be cooked to al dente (still a bit hard to the tooth)
Step 2: chop your fresh tomatoes – you want them to have a lot of water content because this will create your simple sauce.
Step 3: chop your sun dried tomatoes and garlic. Have everything ready to go because your sauce will be done in the time it takes to cook the pasta.
Step 4: in a large pan on medium heat add good quality extra virgin olive oil and tomatoes. I want the tomatoes to sweat out their liquid which will mix with the olive oil to help create a gorgeous sauce. You may think this is allot of oil however, it is a glorious healthy fat that will create the most beautiful simple coating for your pasta. Add a generous sprinkle of sea salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes. Tomatoes love salt don’t omit this. You can always start with some and add more at the end once you taste it if you feel unsure of your amounts. I never like to add measurements for salt and pepper because you need to add and taste to get accurate amounts.
Step 5: add your chili flakes, your sun dried tomatoes, garlic and seasonings. Stir and cook on medium low for another 4-5 minutes. The oil gets beautifully infused with the other components and slowly thickens slightly. Taste it and adjust seasonings as you like. It is not allot of sauce however, it is just enough to coat the pasta and Italians do not typically over sauce their pasta like North Americans do. Try it!
Step 6: add your pasta to the sauce and always keep some pasta water. The starchy liquid always helps to thicken the sauce and helps to create a glossy coating. I have used maybe a 1/4 cup of the pasta water in my preparations here. Toss and cook another 2 minutes. This is why you never over cook the pasta because it will continue to cook in the sauce.
Toss in your chopped basil and half of your grated cheese, taste it. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Mix and serve.
On the plate I add the additional cheese and a drizzle more of fresh olive oil for another layer of taste and if you like a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar. It is simple, sweet, a bit spicy from the chili flakes and perfectly balanced and delicious.
I love a great plate of pasta and tomatoes, basil, cheese, garlic and good olive oil is once of the best.