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Scarpetta Spaghetti With Tomato Sauce

Scarpetta Spaghetti With Tomato Sauce

Scarpetta Tomato Sauce


extra-virgin olive oil

12 plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded, plus any juices from peeling and seeding, strained and reserved (see **Note)

kosher salt

10 cloves garlic

3 sprigs fresh basil (about 24 leaves plus stems)

1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes


1. In a wide saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes; be careful, as the oil may spurt. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and, using a potato masher, smash the tomatoes, really working the masher to break them up. If the consistency is thick, add the reserved tomato juice to the pan. Cook, occasionally mashing and stirring, for 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, basil, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally to wilt the basil, until the garlic is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the oil from the heat and let the ingredients steep for 5 minutes.

3. Strain about half of the oil into the cooked tomatoes. (Strain and reserve the rest of the flavorful oil; it’s a great bread-dipping oil.) Stir to combine. Remove the sauce from the heat.

4. Taste and add additional salt, if needed. The sauce may taste spicy on its own, but it gets balanced when used with other ingredients, especially the pasta, butter, and cheese in the Scarpetta Spaghetti.

5. The sauce will keep, covered and refrigerated, for 2 days. Reheat gently before serving.

**Note: If your tomatoes are not ripe, bright, and juicy, reduce the number of fresh tomatoes to 8 and add 4 whole canned San Marzano.

Scarpetta Spaghetti


1 pound fresh or dried spaghetti

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

16 whole fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling


1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, put the tomato sauce in a large sauté pan and cook over medium heat to further concentrate the sauce’s flavors.

3. Cook the spaghetti until just shy of tender. Reserve some of the pasta cooking water and gently drain the spaghetti. Add the spaghetti and a little of the pasta cooking water to the pan with the sauce; the starch and salt in that water will help the sauce adhere to the pasta. Give the pan a good shake, increase the heat to medium-high, and let the pasta finish cooking in the sauce. The sauce should coat the pasta and look cohesive, and when you shake the pan, the sauce and pasta should move together.

4. Take the pan off the heat and add the Parmigiano-Reggiano, butter, and basil. Using two wooden spoons (tongs can tear the fresh pasta), toss everything together well.

5. Divide the pasta among serving bowls. Finish with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and serve.

Serves 4

Reprinted with permission from the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, from The Scarpetta Cookbook by Scott Conant. Photography by Brent Herrig. Copyright 2013.

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