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Course: Mains
Keyword: Italian, Pasta, Sides, Weeknight Dinner

Weeknight Spaghetti

ACTIVE TIME: 35 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour
Yield: 2 servings
Simple spaghetti gets a flavor boost from a San Marzano tomato sauce and homemade garlic and herb oil.
One of the most important lessons I learned from sneaking into the movie theater to see "The Godfather" was when you "go to the mattresses," the best spaghetti sauce you can make is built on canned tomatoes. Well, I feel like I'm "going to the mattresses" just about everyday, so I've spruced up my old recipe for quick assembly.
A note on pasta water: Starchy pasta water is the perfect liquid for adjusting pasta sauces at the last minute. I don't know a single chef who throws this magical elixir down the drain until the night is over.
This recipe first appeared in EveryDayCook.
Photo by Lynne Calamia
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  • 16 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 10 basil leaves, plus extra for serving
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flake
  • 1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes, drained
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 to 2 whole anchovies
  • 8 ounces dry spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Parmesan, for serving
ACTIVE TIME: 35 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour
Yield: 2 servings


  • Make the herb oil: Combine the oil, garlic, thyme, rosemary, basil, and pepper flakes in a narrow saucepan over medium heat. As the heat builds, there will be considerable bubbling as the water cooks out of the garlic and herbs. When this dies down and the basil and garlic turn brown, kill the heat and steep until cool. Strain the oil into a jar and toss the solids. Use immediately or cover tightly and freeze for later use.
  • Make the sauce: Heat 3 tablespoons of the herb oil in a wide saute pan over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and 1 teaspoon of the salt to the pan, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes as they soften with a wooden spatula or an old-school potato masher.
  • Reduce the heat, stir in the anchovies, and cook until the anchovies completely vanish from view, about 5 minutes more.
  • Meanwhile, place the spaghetti in a pan wide enough that the noodles can be submerged by just a couple inches of cold water seasoned with the remaining tablespoon of salt. Place over high heat and when the boil is reached, reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring often, until al dente, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Fish the spaghetti out of the water with tongs or a hand strainer, allowing most, but not all, of the water to drain away. Stir into the sauce and cook on low for 5 minutes. Finish with butter, Parmesan, and fresh basil. If sauce seems too dry, add a quarter cup of the pasta water and serve.
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