From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This simple pasta has the makings of a great family meal that will appeal to young and old alike. The dish has three basic elements; pasta, a rich tomato sauce and cheese. The sauce can be quickly made from canned or fresh tomatoes and the cheese can be served on the side or folded into the marinara if you want a creamy sauce. This is a perfect dish to serve on a busy school night. It can be made in stages. The tomato sauce, which freezes well, can be made days before its needed and rewarmed when you are ready to use it. For reasons that still elude me, cooks back in the 50's and 60's thought marinara sauce had to simmer for hours before it could be served. Imagine the looks on their faces if they were to learn that these days we make it in 20 minutes. Would they call that progress? I love the appearance of this dish. It has a spare elegance that I find appealing. The dish also makes me smile. When my children were quite young they called spaghetti worms and rigatoni whistles. I wonder if the food mainstream is ready for a dish called Whistles in Red Sauce. This basic tomato sauce is the one that introduced most of us to Italian cooking and I think we still love its simplicity. I hope those of you who make this recipe, which was found in a special issue of Gourmet, will enjoy your own walk down memory lane. Here's their recipe for Rigatoni with Creamy Tomato Sauce.
Rigatoni with Creamy Tomato Sauce...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of the special publication, Gourmet Easy Dinners.
3 pounds fresh plum tomatoes or 1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice
2 large garlic cloves, crushed with side of a large heavy knife
Pinch of hot red-pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
1-1/4 tsp salt
4 fresh basil leaves, torn into bits
1 pound rigatoni
1 cup ricotta (about 8-ounces; preferably fresh)
Grated Pecorino Romano
1) If using fresh tomatoes, cut a shallow X in bottom of each with a paring knife and blanch tomatoes in 3 batches in a 5- to 6-quart pot of boiling water, 1 minute per batch. Transfer blanched tomatoes with a slotted spoon to a cutting board and, when cool enough to handle, peel, beginning from scored end, with knife, then halve lengthwise and seed. Chop tomatoes (fresh or canned), reserving juice (from cutting board or can).
2) Cook garlic and red-pepper flakes in oil in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 5 minutes. Discard garlic, then add tomatoes with their juice and salt and simmer, uncovered, until sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil and salt to taste.
3) Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of well salted boiling water, uncovered, until al dente, then drain in a colander.
4) Toss pasta with warm marinara sauce in a large bowl. Serve with ricotta and grated Pecorino Romano. Yield: 4 servings.
Cooks’ Notes: Sauce can be made ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered, up to 5 days or frozen in an airtight container for 2 months.
If using canned tomatoes, whose sodium content varies, use only 1/4 teaspoon salt then season your finished sauce with additional salt if desired.
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