Sometimes its the simple things that make life great. Like, the first time we took Lilly to the park this season she asked to go on the swings. Last year, I’d put her in the swing, give her about three pushes and she’s start shouting “Out! Out! Out!!” This year, things were different. The second I gave her a push she tilted her head back and let out the most wonderful, joyful, innocent laugh. And she just kept laughing. Head back, setting sun glistening in her improbably golden hair, laughing as a child SHOULD laugh when pushed on a swing set. It is and will likely always be one of my favorite memories of her. It wasn’t Disney, or the ocean, or some fancy toy or party. Just a swing set at the park. Simple.
Food can be the very same. Especially on weeknights. Especially if you’re feeding a family. Make it simple. Make it nutritious. Make it delicious and make it easy. We subscribe to those rules more and more lately. That and the “if it ain’t broke…” adage.
This recipe is definitely simple and perfect and easy, despite its slightly fancified sounding name. Linguine al Pomodoro translates quite simply to Linguine with Tomato Sauce. Yep.
But what a sauce it is! Bright, fresh tomato flavor infused with tons of fresh basil and just enough butter and cheese to give it a rich, velvety, dare I say unctuous, texture. It is so, sooooo good. Especially served alongside Easy Panko & Parmesan Crusted Chicken.
The recipe that inspired my version was featured on the cover of Bon Appetit in May of 2011 and initially I followed their version to a tee. But, because JiT and Lillian request this one often and because I
got lazy needed to be able to prep this quickly for weeknights, I made some time-saving adjustments to the method. Below is my quick-and-easy but still insanely delicious despite the basic ingredients.
What are some favorites from your weeknight recipe arsenal?
Linguine al Pomodoro
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup frozen diced onions (or 1 medium onion, diced)
4 cloves garlic, crushed (or you can use an equivalent amount of the pre-crushed variety)
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 28 ounce can peeled tomotoes (I prefer Dell Alpe brand), pureed in a blender or, pour off the liquid and use a stick blender to puree directly in the can
4 large bunches fresh basil, tied together with kitchen twine (you’ll need at least one of those little plastic containers sold in supermarket produce section)
12 ounces linguine pasta
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
2 additional fresh basil leaves, sliced chiffonade
salt & pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add crushed red pepper flakes and cook about 1 minute more. Increase heat to medium and add tomato puree and cook, stirring occasionally until sauce begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Add fresh basil bunch, cover and let sauce rest and basil steep for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions, cooking until just SHY OF al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water before draining pasta.
Return sauce to medium heat, remove and discard the basil bunch, squeezing any sauce clinging to the leaves back into the pan. Add pasta to the sauce and bring to a boil, stirring continuously until pasta reaches al dente (about 2 minutes). Add butter and cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is velvety and clings to the pasta. If needed add some of the reserved pasta cooking water to reach proper consistency.
Serve immediately with additional basil and cheese as garnish.