Because this classic southern Italian dish is so incredibly simple, the ingredients should be chosen with care. Use unpeeled tomatoes if you can—even though they are less sweet and more bitter with the skins on, they help create chunks and texture in the sauce because they don't break down into a pulp. If desired, warm your pasta bowls before serving.
This recipe comes courtesy of Eataly Italia’s corporate executive chef, Enrico Panero.
Featured in: The Path to Perfect Spaghetti al Pomodoro
What You Will Need
- 2 (12-oz.) jars whole red datterini tomatoes (preferably Così Com'è brand)
- ¼ cups Ligurian taggiasca extra-virgin olive oil (preferably ROI brand), plus more for drizzling
- Sea salt (preferably Il Mercante di Spezie brand)
- Kosher salt
- 1 (17.6-oz.) package spaghetti di Gragnano (preferably Afeltra Carta Paglia brand)
- Leaves from 4 sprigs fresh basil, coarsely torn or chopped if desired
In a medium pot, add the tomatoes with their juices, and crush well with your hands. Stir in the oil, and season with a generous pinch of sea salt.
Fill a large pot two-thirds of the way with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a generous amount of kosher salt until the water is quite salty, then add the pasta. Cook, gently stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente, about 11 minutes (cooking time will be shorter if you are not using spaghetti di Gragnano). Do not drain.
Using tongs, transfer the pasta to the pot with the tomatoes, reserving the pasta water. Set over medium heat. Add ½ cup of the pasta water and cook, tossing gently, until the sauce is hot and slightly thickened, and the pasta is coated, about 1 minute.
Divide the pasta between 4 bowls. Drizzle each bowl with oil and top with basil. Serve immediately.