I fall in love a lot. With food, namely.
It often starts with a dinner out. I’ll enjoy a glass of wine, munch on some bread, and take a first bite.
Most of the time, it’s just a bite. But there have been moments when I have to put my fork down, savor the flavors and textures, and promptly zone out for the rest of the meal as I enjoy the dish.
That’s what happened in Montauk the weekend before last. Scarpetta’s famous spaghetti was the best thing I’ve eaten in months, and I had to recreate it.
It’s a simple recipe, but one that focuses on perfect ingredients. I picked up my tomatoes, Parmesan Reggiano, and basil from the farmer’s market. I used fresh spaghetti from Eataly. I crushed dried red chiles in a mortar and pestle, and used the highest quality olive oil in my pantry.
Making the sauce does require some time and labor, but it’s worth it. It’s the best pasta I’ve ever had (even better than this one), and one I’ll be whipping up all summer long.
- 20 roma tomatoes
- 6 ounces of fresh spaghetti
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 5 dried chilies (crushed red pepper flakes also work fine)
- Parmesan Reggiano
- High quality olive oil
- Set a large pot of water to boil.
- Slice each tomato in half and remove the seeds and core in a clean bowl.
- Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and cold water.
- Boil the cored tomatoes for 30 seconds, and quickly transfer to an ice bath. Reduce heat of the water.
- Peel the skins of the tomatoes. In another bowl, strain the juice from the seeds and core.
- Using a mortar and pestle, crush 5 dried red chilies until fine. Peel 8 cloves of garlic, and chop 10 large basil leaves into thin ribbons. Pluck another 5 leaves and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, drizzle olive oil and add the tomatoes, a pinch of salt, and 1 teaspoon of dried chile flakes over medium heat. Gently mash the tomatoes as they cook, adding the tomato juice if needed.
- In a small saucepan, add 1/4 cup olive oil, the peeled garlic, and whole basil leaves and set to simmer.
- Add lots of salt (approximately 1/4 cup) to your water and set it to boil again. Once boiling, add the fresh pasta and cook until al dente. Strain the pasta and drizzle it with olive oil.
- Transfer the sauce to the large pot. Using tongs, add the pasta to the sauce and stir until each strand is coated nicely. Continue to add until all the pasta is in the pot.
- Strain the garlic and basil from the infused oil, and dress the pasta with the oll.
- Plate each portion in a bowl and garnish with grated Parmesan Reggiano, basil, freshly ground black pepper, and extra red pepper flakes if you like.
I found this bowl set to be extremely helpful in making this dish, along with my molcajete and my large cutting board. These bowls are perfect for serving the pasta, and a glass of Tuscan red pairs beautifully with the dish.