Pasta with basic Tomato and Basil Sauce. This is the most basic and simplest cooked pasta sauce, hence it is the benchmark of a good Italian home cook.
1 kg large red ripe tomatoes
40 ml extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
A handful of fresh basil
A pinch of red chilly flakes
1 packet Penne (though you could use any pasta here, long, thin, short or tube, as this is a sauce which works well with all the pastas)
Salt to taste
Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise and remove most of the seeds, using your fingers. Then quarter the tomatoes.
Heat the oil in a large skillet, and add garlic and chilly flakes.
As soon as the garlic gives off its aroma and becomes opaque, add the tomatoes. Cook over high heat until the tomato begins to thicken. Use a wooden spoon to stir and help break the tomato pulp.
Add the basil, either whole or roughly chopped, and salt. When the sauce is cooked, remove it from the heat and run it through a food processor for a minute.
Cook the pasta in abundant boiling water, till al dente, and drain.
Place in a serving bowl with the sauce. Drizzle a little olive oil over the pasta and mix well with the sauce.
Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
Words from the Chef
Once you have a basic tomato sauce in hand, you could do zillions of variations. Add grilled veggies, or slivers of ham, or even some fish or prawns. Just do me a favor please and do not add chicken. All the rest is fine with me.
It should be cooked fast and at a high heat so that the tomatoes retain their summer sweetness, yet long enough to lose the watery quality that signals a bad sauce.