This dish is a hybrid between my go-to tomato sauce base and vodka sauce. Rustic bites of tomatoes and onions are blanketed in rich cream. The fresh basil and vodka are omitted, leaving behind a simple, comforting dish that’s easy to pull together with staple pantry ingredients. Shared with loved ones or enjoyed solo, it makes for a great weekday indulgence.
This is one of those recipes that doesn’t have an actual recipe. It’s something I’ve made for years (with the exception of the cream, which is a slight variation) and tweak according to my provisions and tastes at the given moment. The base ingredients are simple: tomatoes (both fresh and canned), onion (or shallots), salt, and cinnamon. Garlic, basil, cream, crushed red pepper, eggplant, and so on can all be added if desired.
In a deep skillet or large wok over medium-low heat, sauté half an onion in 1-2 tablespoons light olive oil, salting to sweat. Once softened and translucent (about 5 minutes), add 2 cloves garlic, diced. Sauté for 1 minute until fragrant. Add 1 large ripe tomato, diced. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 28-ounce can tomatoes, crushed or diced (whatever you’re feeling; I typically opt for diced), and a large pinch (approximately 1/2 teaspoon) of ground cinnamon. (Cinnamon cuts the acidity of the tomatoes and takes every pasta sauce from good to bangin’. Do this.) Stir everything together and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes, allowing flavors to meld.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook your favorite pasta (remembering to salt the water after it is boiling, not before). My favorite pasta is shells or cappellini, but I opted for the landlord’s favorite in this instance: linguine.
Once pasta is cooked and drained, add it to your extra grande sauce pan. Add a generous splash of cream (and by “splash” I mean 1/2+ cup — go for it), 1 tablespoon butter, and another pinch or two of sea salt. Toss with tongs to combine and serve immediately. Garnish with fresh basil and parmesan if desired, or enjoy simply.
Finger. Lickin’. Good.