Halved and tweaked from Smitten Kitchen
5 or 6 plum tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Small handful basil leaves, most left whole, a few slivered for garnish
1/8 cup olive oil
dried spaghetti for one or two, depending on how sauce-laden you like your pasta. Don’t worry, there won’t be any leftover.
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1. Cut a small X in the bottom of each tomato and blanch in a pot of boiling water for approximately 30 seconds. This loosens their skins, which should now slip right off and be discarded. [You can cook your pasta in the hot water later if you like.]
2. Halve each tomato lengthwise and remove the seeds with your fingertips into a small strainer set over a bowl. Discard the seeds, but hang on to the precious, precious juice.
3. Add the tomato flesh and juices plus salt to a large saucepan over medium-high heat, mashing them with a wooden implement to your desired consistency as they soften. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 30-ish minutes.
4. While the tomato cooks, combine sliced garlic clove, a few whole basil leaves, the pinch of red pepper flakes, and the olive oil in a small saucepan. Heat over the lowest heat possible to draw out the time it takes to come to a simmer. Once you see bubbles, immediately remove from heat, strain into a small dish, and reserve.
5. At about 20 minutes of simmering, add a healthy dose of salt to your blanching water pot and bring it back to a boil. Toss in the spaghetti and cook just to the point of al dente – should have a slight bite to it. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and drain the rest.
6. Your sauce should be the most gorgeous brilliant red by now. Stir in the reserved olive oil and taste, adjusting seasonings if needed. Add the drained spaghetti plus just a touch of the pasta water to the sauce and cook together only for a minute or two. If sauce needs more liquid, add more pasta water.
7. Guild the lily: add in the 1/2 tablespoon of butter and stir. Garnish with slivered basil for a touch of green. Don’t add cheese, this sauce needs nothing. Serve; devour in reverent silence.