Now that the drama of Thanksgiving dinner is behind you, it’s nice to get back to a simple meal, and a basic pasta dish fits that ticket. But did you ever realize how much sugar—or even evil, high fructose corn syrup—is in jarred pasta sauces? Not necessarily a good thing so why not make your own. Here’s a Basic Parmesan Pomodoro recipe from Giada De Larentiis that eliminates any doubt.
With no sugar in it, a single carrot will provide the perfect sweetness while also lending a more rich, complex flavor. This recipe has you toss in large chunks of carrot, but if you so desire, you can grate or finely chop it up and leave in the sauce throughout the cooking process. Then up the ante even more by using whole grain penne instead of 100% flour pasta.
Parmesan rinds are easy to find at your local grocery store in the cheese section, but why not start your own collection. We save our parm rinds in a ziploc bag in the freezer and just pull out what we want to use as needed, they last for months and months! About those canned cherry tomatoes, I have yet to find them, so go ahead and use whole plum tomatoes if that’s all you have access to.
Basil was only available in those small plastic containers which don’t include the stems, but not to worry, the leaves alone added plenty of herby flavoring and aroma.
Basic Parmesan Pomodoro
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 3 large, full stems basil
- Three 14-ounce cans peeled cherry tomatoes
- 1 carrot, peeled and halved
- 8 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, cut into 3-inch pieces
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound penne rigate pasta
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
- 3 to 4 tablespoons butter
- Heat a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1/3 cup of the oil and the garlic, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the garlic, stirring often and mashing gently with a wooden spoon, until golden brown and beginning to soften, 5 minutes.
- Add the basil, tomatoes and their juices, the carrots and cheese rinds. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Bring to a simmer and adjust the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for 35 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
- Remove the rinds, carrots and basil. At this point you can use an immersion blender to puree slightly or leave it as a chunky sauce (I prefer chunky). It’s OK if some of the basil leaves remain in the sauce.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the penne 2 minutes less than the package directions.
- Meanwhile, rewarm the sauce in a large, straight-sided skillet set over medium heat. Using a spider, strain the pasta from the water and add it directly into the pan with sauce, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
- Before stirring, sprinkle the pasta with the grated cheese. Toss the pasta, cheese and sauce together.
- Add the butter, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the reserved pasta water and continue to cook until the sauce is creamy and the pasta is al dente.
- Serve topped with more cheese if desired.