What better way to celebrate the full flavours of an Italian spring than with pasta bathed in homemade tomato sauce spiked with an aromatic punch of fresh basil. I love to find ways of using our homemade 'Mamma Styles' tomato sauce that we make each autumn, and this recipe is one of the more delicious ways to enjoy the fruits of our labour. Topped with a sprig of fresh basil and a flutter of grated pecorino, there is no better way to ward off the last vestiges of winter, and open our culinary arms to spring.
Spaghettini with Homemade Tomato Sauce & Fresh Basil
1 package dried Spaghettini pasta
4 cups quality Tomato Sauce, preferably homemade like 'Mamma Styles'
1/4 cup red wine
1 bunch fresh basil, washed and dried
1 cup grated Pecorino
Start to boil water in a large pot. Place the tomato sauce and wine in a small saucepan over medium heat, and gently simmer until warmed through. Cover and keep warm.
Add the dried pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, according to the manufacturer's instructions. While the pasta is cooking, julienne about 10 basil leaves and select 4 attractive sprigs for garnish. Drain the spaghettini into a colander, reserving 1 cup of pasta water, return the pasta to the pot and toss with the tomato sauce and chopped basil. Spoon a tablespoon or two of pasta water to the sauce and gently mix to combine.
Serve the pasta as large nests in pre-warmed dinner bowls: using a large fork, twirl a portion of spaghettini and cradle in a large spoon or small bowl until it forms a nest-like shape, then place in each serving bowl. Garnish each 'nidi' with a sprig of basil and serve immediately with a bowl of grate pecorino on the side.
Guy's Garlic Bread
1 fresh ciabatta or baguette
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
In a small bowl, mash up the butter and minced garlic until it's well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add the chopped parsley. Cut the ciabatta in half length wise being careful not o cut all the way through — it should open like a book. Liberally spread the garlic butter on the inside of both 'halves', then wrap snuggly in aluminum foil. Place in a preheated oven set to 375°F and bake for 15-20 minutes. Just before serving, open the garlic bread up from it's foil package and allow it to cook open to the heat of the oven for another 5 minutes. To serve, close the bread back to it's original loaf shape and slice into 1-inch pieces. Place in a bread basket and serve with the pasta.