Sure, you wouldn’t need a recipe for a basic marinara sauce for your bowl of spaghetti. But I wanted to share this anyway because it tasted great. Lots of garlic and good tomatoes make for a simple yet delicious sauce. Fresh basil gives the dish freshness. I added some dried thyme and paprika as well. Tossing the cooked spaghetti in this sauce and topping it with fresh basil and grated cheese turned a dull midweek day lunch into a delicious meal. Bowl-lickable is what I’d call it.
Remember the amaranth and basil pesto I made? I tossed some spaghetti in it and threw in some roasted cherry tomatoes. It was SO good! I’m not a fan of heavy pasta sauces loaded with cream or cheese or both. I find it takes away everything from the sauce and makes it bland without any flavour. Feel free to add it if you like it that way though. This one doesn’t have any.
If you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to live without garlic and lemon. I don’t know what I’d do without them. For this hearty spaghetti meal, I slow roasted full garlic bulbs in the oven, mashed them with some olive oil and crushed black pepper. That’s it. The garlic roasting bit I’d watched on TV or might have read it somewhere – I don’t quite remember. It’s been a while and I’ve always wanted to do it. Garlic sure is pasta’s best friend and I just got them together on a plate.
Spaghetti – one portion
Garlic – 3 full bulbs
Olive oil – to drizzle over garlic
Salt – to taste
Pepper – 1 tsp crushed
Cherry tomatoes – handful
Basil – a few leaves
Preheat oven at 190C for 15 mins.
Remove some of the flaky skin of the garlic bulb but not so much that the cloves just fall apart. Cut the top of the bulb off leaving the rest of the bulb to be exposed.
Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt on the exposed part of the garlic and all over it.
Wrap in foil and roast in oven for 50 mins.
You can throw in the cherry tomatoes (drizzled with olive oil and with a sprinkling of salt) as well and take them out after 40 mins.
When there’s 15 mins to get the garlic out, cook the pasta so it remains warm when you mix it with the sauce.
Take the garlic out and let it cool a little.
You can see the flesh would have turned really soft.
Squeeze the flesh out of the bulbs into a bowl.
Add a dash of some more olive oil with pepper and mix well.
Toss the cooked spaghetti in this garlic sauce and add more olive oil to it if it seems too dry.
Garnish with the roast tomatoes and fresh basil leaves.
I keep whining about how it’s not easy to find good fresh basil around here in Gurgaon, and that it costs so much more than what it does in Bangalore. Thankfully the vendor near my house here had some beautiful fresh basil in stock as well as some plump fresh red chillies. It was obvious I had to use them both. A nice Thai curry came to mind, and even a noodle soup but then I remembered I had some whole wheat pasta that I’d been meaning to cook for a while. I did something really simple – grind basil, chillies and garlic into a paste. Which then I used as my pasta sauce base and added tomatoes and cream to make it the best sauce I’ve made. Ever!
Bunch of basil leaves – I’d say a cup, chopped
4 – 5 big fresh red chillies
5 cloves garlic
(Grind these into a paste with a dash of water. Store in fridge or use immediately)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, grated (alternatively you could use a tbsp of garlic paste)
1/4 cup fresh cream (you could try milk for a lighter version)
1 cup pasta cooking water
Salt to taste
Pepper for seasoning
Basil leaves for garnish
Optional – vegetables. I used a box of mushrooms, sliced.
Cook any pasta as per instructions on the package and keep aside along with a cup of the water.
Heat olive oil and add the chilli basil paste, and saute for 2 – 3 mins.
Add garlic and tomatoes. Cook for 5 mins till tomatoes break down.
Add the pasta water and vegetables at this point. I added mushrooms and let it cook.
Once mushrooms are cooked, add cream, salt and pepper.
Tip in the pasta into the chilli basil sauce and mix well.
Garnish with basil and serve hot!