Fusilli with Tomato-Basil Sauce

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

This basic tomato sauce pairs perfectly with almost every pasta shape, from farfalle to ziti. The recipe makes enough tomato sauce for dinner tonight plus 2 additional dishes.

Storage tip: Extra tomato-basil sauce can be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. When reheating the sauce, stir in an additional 1 to 2 Tbs. olive oil.


For the tomato-basil sauce:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 8 cups canned chopped tomatoes with juice
  • 10 to 12 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. salt
  • 1 lb. fusilli, penne or other medium-size pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Make the sauce
In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the oil. Add the garlic and sauté until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the tomatoes, basil and the 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Using a food processor or immersion blender, process the sauce until smooth. Or, position a food mill with the fine shredding disk over a large saucepan and pass the sauce through it. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the 2 Tbs. salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until al dente, according to the package instructions.

Place 2 cups of the sauce in a warmed serving bowl. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve, passing the cheese at the table. Serves 4; makes 8 cups sauce total.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Pasta, by Julia della Croce (Oxmoor House, 2006).

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