Spaghetti with Tomato Water, Basil and Garlic

Pasta with Tomato Water, Basil, and Garlic

How can you resist a plate of glistening pasta like this? The buttery tomato sauce wraps itself around the warm pasta like a big ol’ hug. I’m now in the butter-in-tomato-sauce camp. Butter adds a richness that tempers the acidity of tomatoes. The basil adds a burst of freshness and you’ll want a second helping. This finely-honed recipe was developed by the great Michael Ruhlman, one of my celebrity chef crushes (I have a few). His book The Making of a Chef is one of my favourites and it inspired me in the kitchen. I’m having a love affair with his pasta dish too. -bvox

Spaghetti with Tomato Water, Basil and Garlic
Source: Michael Ruhlman

  • 4 ripe tomatoes, large dice
  • 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons of coarse kosher salt
  • 12 ounces spaghetti or any pasta you like
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • a good handful of basil (you’ll want about a cup after you’ve cut it to ribbons)
  • olive oil as needed
  • 3 ounces butter, cut into three chunks
  1. Season the tomatoes with the salt and toss them well.
  2. Put a big pot of water on to boil.
  3. Smash the garlic with the flat side of a knife, give it all a few rough chops with the knife and set them a side in a small bowl.
  4. Cut the basil into ribbons or roughly chop it.  Take a pinch of this basil and chop it finely and add it to the tomatoes to season the water.
  5. Cook your pasta, drain it, put it back in the pot, oil the pasta to keep it from sticking to itself. (If your water isn’t boiling yet, get your garlic cooking, step 6.)
  6. Heat a teaspoon or two of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat, add the garlic and cook it till it is just beginning to brown around the edges and soften, a couple minutes. Give it a pinch of salt if you wish.
  7. Pour the tomatoes into a strainer or colander over the garlic.  Set the strainer with the tomatoes into the bowl so they don’t drip on the counter, and swirl the sauce to bring it to a simmer.  Add the butter while continuing to swirl or stir the sauce.  Keep the sauce moving until all the butter is melted.  Add the pasta, toss and serve to coat the pasta evenly.  Divide the pasta among four bowls, top with the tomatoes and basil.
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One thought on “Spaghetti with Tomato Water, Basil and Garlic

  1. Steph McVox September 15, 2014 at 3:29 pm Reply

    Tomato water is the new black!

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