First things first, I hope you guys had a joyous 3rd (and 4th) of July! I know I did. You know it’s bad when you need a weekend to recover from your weekend. Yes, the party was a big-time success. Tons of tasty bytes that included jumbo hot dogs, burgers dripping with cheddar and brownie sundaes. And yes, everyone dressed in appropriate festive colors. No yellow – that was so 2009.
Now with the “holiday” season behind us, reality has most certainly set in, which I’m happy to report, is going great. What’s wild is that in the past four months or so since moving back from New York, I’ve gone from one extreme to the next. When I first came back, I had no job but what I assumed were promising prospects. Mmmm, sadly no. Those prospects and follow-ups were flushed down the drain within weeks. Then came the depression. I slowly sank into my woman-cave that we call the upstairs couch and let’s just say, I watched a lot of SVU. Like, alot. Tuesday marathons slowly killed my soul.
These days, (hello, July) I couldn’t be a busier little bytes. With two different (food-related!) freelancing gigs under my belt, I also began a social content internship this week, similar to the type of work I was doing at Spark in NYC. While I’ve seemingly taken on task of perpetual unpaid intern, the truth is, I’m happy to do it again. My liberal arts education never seemed to push internships on us in college and instead, I got to spend 2 out of my 4 years preparing for & writing a kick-ass thesis that just happens to be a food memoir. Boom! #humblebrag
Also, I discovered my passion for this social & digital marketing world a little late. I’ve always loved to write and I’ve always loved to share (I’ll never apologize for blowin’ up your newsfeeds) but after graduating three crazy years ago, I needed time. Typical 20-something, but true. Jumping into the corporate world was never in the back of my mind, never something I worked for in college, never something I thought I wanted to do. Oh, the life of an English major. Luckily, I’ve now found myself in a creative workspace environment and I finally feel as though I’m where I belong. Took a few years, but I think I’m here.
Strangely enough, there are a few more things on the horizon (bytes wise) that I’m so excited about but I’m going to try and keep a secret (for the next two weeks at least). Lets just say, I’m about to find out if the camera really does add 10 pounds….
Now, back to the food. The reason I wanted to bring up my background in social alongside this spaghetti recipe is because after I made this dish (and subsequently blasted it all over facebook, twitter & instagram) I was reminded of why, plain and simple, I love 1. writing this blog and 2. social media. The response I got for this plate o’ food, just from a few social media channels was beyond my expectations. Something about a plate of pasta I guess, that really does it for people. But hey, I’m not complaining because you know what? It does taste better than it looks. Trust me on this one.
*What I’ve posted (and cooked / eventually eaten) has been a take on a recipe from both RPM’s famous tomato basil sauce & Scarpetta’s famous sauce. What I love about Scarpetta’s recipe is the basil, garlic & chili pepper infused oil that is drizzled on top of the saucy tomato noodles. What I love about RPM is how you slowly create the tomato sauce. So, why not combine both, I thought? The results were utterly mind-blowing.*
- One 28oz can whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow or red onion, finely chopped, about 1/2 a cup
- 2+ garlic cloves (depending on how garlicky you like your sauce!)
- 1 tablespoon sugar, optional
- 4 sprigs of basil, salt & pepper to taste
Pasta & Infused Garlic Oil
- 3/4 lb bucatini (I doubled the above recipe and used 1 lb of spaghetti for 3-4 people)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 5 sprigs of fresh basil
- Parmesan cheese to garnish
Steps (my collaboration of both adapted recipes)
In a strainer over a large bowl, mash the whole peeled tomatoes until the juices have dripped into the bowl and the peeled outside bits of the tomato remain in the strainer. Set both aside separately. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the 3 tablespoons of olive oil until warm, add the onions until translucent and then add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Then, add the whole peeled bits of the tomatoes, the sugar (if using), a dash of salt & pepper and stir together, letting the tomatoes soften and the sauce thicken, about 15 minutes or so. Add in the reserved tomato juice, bring the whole thing to a boil and then let simmer for an additional 25 minutes, until thickened. Toss in the basil and set aside.
At this point, you can get your pot of pasta water ready and once its boiled and lightly salted, add the noodles. While the pasta is cooking, make your infused goodness by warming the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the sprigs of fresh basil, garlic and chili flakes and let warm / slightly bubble until the garlic is lightly browned. At that point, turn off the heat and allow to cool. The longer you let the mixture sit, the deeper the flavors will become. When ready, strain the oil and set aside – you’ll drizzle it over the finished plates.
Once the noodles are al-dente, strain them, add them to the tomato sauce mixture, toss in some parmesan cheese and a little pad of butter (trust me) and toss all together until the noodles are coated completely with the tomato sauce. Drizzle finished product generously with the basil oil, a bit more parmesan & you’re good to go.
Note: the great thing about this recipe is the freedom you have. While RPM’s calls for strictly canned tomatoes, Scarpetta uses fresh and canned. I’ve made this recipe before using a mixture of fresh & canned tomatoes, both have been just as tasty – it just depends if you can snag in-season tomatoes. Feel free to play around!