Spaghettini with Tomato, Olive Oil, Garlic, and Basil

Spaghettini al Pomodoro e Basilico

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as a main course

Appears in

How to Cook Italian

How to Cook Italian

By Giuliano Hazan

Published 2005

  • About

Most Italian recipes begin with either olive oil or butter, depending on whether the dish is delicate and sweet or more robustly flavored. Whether butter or olive oil is used also affects how the recipe evolves. This tomato sauce and the Simple Butter and Tomato Sauce are perfect examples of the difference between the two approaches. In the butter sauce, the sweeter flavor of onion is used and the sauce is cooked longer for a deep, rich flavor. This olive oil sauce, however, is made with garlic and cooked quickly with just the flesh of fresh tomatoes to give it a vibrant, bright flavor.


  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (enough to make the sauce lively, not spicy)
  • Salt
  • 12 medium basil leaves
  • 1 pound spaghettini


  1. Fill a pot for the pasta with at least 6 quarts water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
  2. peel the tomatoes, scoop out and discard the seeds, and cut the flesh into 1½ × ½-inch strips.
  3. Peel and thinly slice the garlic. Put the garlic with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and the crushed red pepper in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté until the garlic begins to sizzle, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and season with salt. Cook until all the liquid is evaporated and the tomatoes separate from the oil, 10 to 20 minutes.
  4. Tear the basil leaves into pieces and add them to the sauce. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling water, put in the spaghettini, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until al dente, then drain it well. Toss with the sauce and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve at once.