Here is a very easy and delicious way to make pasta in red sauce. What’s special about this recipe is that this tomato basil sauce is not limited to be paired with just pasta. It is multipurpose and can be used as a sandwich spread, a pizza topping or lasagne sauce! The best part about this tomato basil sauce is that it can be stored for up to a week and it just gets better with time. So if meal prep is your jam, this is the real deal.
This is probably the easiest yet the most popular pasta sauce there is. It is made up of a handful of ingredients like tomato, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and basil that scream authenticity and comfort. It is surprising how such few ingredients can make something so delicious. I would suggest using the best quality ingredients to ensure the best flavours in your sauce as we are using the most minimal number of ingredients. This sauce is creamy without the use of dairy because of the richness of reduced tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil.
How to Cook the Perfect Pasta Every Single Time
No one likes a plate of mushy broken pasta, and so, while it is important to put in our best efforts in perfecting the sauce, where the entire flavour lies, it is also extremely important to boil the pasta to perfection. It is not rocket science, just a few basic steps and you’ll have yourself perfectly cooked pasta every single time:
- Bring Sufficient Water to a Roaring Boil
It is very important to have enough water in the pan to properly drown the pasta- The lesser volume of water may result in it getting extremely starchy, and bring it to a roaring boil before adding your pasta- the boiling water agitates the pasta pieces, thus helping them cook more evenly, keep them separated from one another and avoid clumps.
- Add Salt NOT Oil
A very common mistake a lot of people make is adding oil to their pasta water in order to keep them from sticking to one another. However, this is completely false, as the only thing that can keep the pasta from sticking is an ample amount of water and a rolling boil, and hence is a waste of oil. Adding salt to the pasta water ensures that the pieces/strands of pasta do not remain bland while the only flavour and seasoning are in the sauce, because no one likes to bite into the pasta that has all the flavours in the sauce and none into those pasta pieces.
- Save the pasta water
Saving a couple of ladles of pasta water goes a long way. Not only does the salty pasta water help flavour your sauce, but it also plays a major role, along with butter and olive oil, to bring that glossy magical finish to your pasta. In this recipe, the saline pasta water plays a major role in making the sauce thick and creamy!
- Cook according to package instructions.
There is no universal rule to cook the perfect pasta, it completely depends on the brand or product you are using and it is advisable to cook as per the packet instructions; especially timing. The most common way to cook pasta is until al dente, which loosely translates to “to the bite/tooth”, which means almost cooked but not completely cooked. However, the above tips ensure getting perfectly cooked pasta every single time.
Ingredients in This Tomato Basil Pasta
In this recipe, I’ve used the regular red tomatoes that we find easily in the Indian markets and it has turned out to be just so good. Tomatoes are just the right amount of sweet and sour that balances all the flavours in this sauce. The sweet, bright, fresh flavour of tomatoes is unmistakable and they are also loaded with vitamins and antioxidants so eat well and feel better! In short, tomatoes are a blessing.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Butter
Butter is a key ingredient in any kind of Alfredo sauce. Paring it up with extra virgin olive oil elevates your dish by providing a bitter and fruity flavour to your pasta; increase the richness of the sauce as well as increasing the health co-efficient because extra virgin olive oil is probably the healthiest fat in the world.
Fusilli/Any Pasta of Choice
A variety of pasta formed into a corkscrew or helical shape, fusilli is used with cold salads with creamier dressing or with thick sauces as the twisted shape holds more flavour and sauce and is also aesthetically pleasing. Where I prefer fusilli with this pasta recipe as it soaks up the creamy, tangy tomato sauce with the freshness of basil really well, you can use any pasta of your choice. Spaghetti is another great choice for this tomato basil sauce.
Italian Basil Leaves
Basil is a culinary herb used in almost all Italian recipes and several other cuisines worldwide. The flavour of basil is sweet and savoury, with hints of mint, anise, and pepper; however, the herb ultimately adds a hint of sweetness to any dish. While dried basil has more concentrated flavours and can be used in place of fresh, using fresh basil for your recipes is always better as dried uncooked herbs have a slight dusty taste to them and never fully substitute fresh herbs.
Fresh Italian basil is so good- it adds a punch of flavour, smells delicious, and can add other dimensions to your dish. It is very easy to grow basil in your kitchen garden and pluck a fresh handful every time you need, just like me.
Storage tip for long shelf life:
You can store this pasta sauce in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week and in the freezer for up to 2 months! Top it with extra olive oil while storing in order to increase the shelf life of the sauce as the oil acts as a preservative.
Preparation time – 30 minutes
Cook time – 30 minutes
Serves – 8
- 1.5 kg tomatoes
- 90 g finely chopped garlic
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp chili flakes
- 40 g butter
- Fresh Italian basil leaves
- 400 g fusilli pasta, boiled
- In a big pot of water, gently drop all your tomatoes. You can make little cross slits on the base of the tomato which may prove to be helpful while peeling the skin after boiling.
- Put it on the heat and let it boil for about 30 minutes till the skin of the tomatoes starts to wrinkle.
- Once the tomatoes are boiled, place each of them directly into ice-cold water so that they stop cooking.
- Once the tomatoes cool down and become easy to handle, peel the skin off each tomato and place the peeled tomatoes in a separate bowl.
- Put the peeled tomatoes in a blender and blend them into a fine paste. Do it in batches to avoid a mess.
- Now, finely chop the garlic. The finer it is, the easier it is for it to release its flavours into the sauce.
- Pour extra virgin olive oil into a pot and add the chopped garlic before turning on the heat. We need to slowly simmer the garlic and let it cook well and release its flavours into the oil.
- Once the garlic is sweated, add in a big chunk of butter and let it melt. The butter lends more flavour to the oil as well as prevents burning.
- Be patient and cook the garlic in the oil and butter at low flame until the maximum flavour of garlic isn’t released into it.
- Once the butter is bubbling well, the raw smell of garlic is lost and the garlic starts to become very lightly golden around the edges, we add some chilli flakes to the oil.
- When the butter has browned and all the flavours have come together and filled the air around you is when we add the tomato paste.
- Cook the tomatoes, stirring regularly till it thickens and is reduced to almost ⅓ rd of its original volume. Make sure you use a heavy bottom pan otherwise your tomatoes might stick to the bottom and burn.
- Cover and cook the tomatoes for about 15-20 minutes until you notice a roaring boil.
- Now is the time when you season the sauce with some salt and black pepper. Give it a very good mix and bring everything together.
- Top the sauce up with some roughly torn fresh basil leaves. I use the ones from my kitchen garden and I suggest you do not substitute it with dried basil because in that case the authenticity of the sauce will be lost.
- At this point, the sauce has reduced and thickened beautifully.
- Now is the time we throw in the boiled pasta. Mix it well with the sauce ensuring every piece is coated well and let it cook in the sauce.
- Once the pasta is cooked well with the sauce, we add in a lot of grated cheese and mix it very well into the sauce.
This pasta is so simple, hearty, absolutely delicious, and effortless. Have it hot garnished with some grated cheese and fresh basil and a side of garlic bread or save it for the next day; it gets better with time. Yes! I hope you try this recipe and you will love it. I can guarantee. Enjoy!