By Angela Denstad Stigeler
If you’ve ever wished that dinner could just make itself, this dish is about as close as it gets while still starting with fresh, raw ingredients. What’s more, it’s fast. And it’s made on the stove in a single skillet, so it’s perfect for the last stretch of steamy summer days when you don’t want to heat up the oven or stand at the stove any longer than necessary. It also makes good use of fresh tomatoes, imparting their rich flavor into a simple sauce that makes itself in the same water where the pasta’s cooking. Even the garlic and onion go without their usual sauté and instead just melt into the mix. This age-old Italian cooking trick is popular in a region that’s fond of spicy “arrabbiata” sauce, but you can of course customize the spice and herbs you use. Serve it alongside grilled fare or make it the main course for a delicious seasonal meal. Any way you try it, it’s sure to become a family-favorite form of sustenance.
One-Pan Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce
12 ounces linguine or spaghetti
12 ounces fresh diced tomatoes (halved cherry tomatoes work well)
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
2-4 sprigs assorted fresh herbs, like basil, oregano, rosemary
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ½ cups water
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Combine the pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, herbs, oil, 2 teaspoons salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and water in a large straight-sided skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Boil, stirring and turning frequently with tongs, until the pasta is al dente and the water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide among bowls and garnish with extra torn basil, if desired. Serve with a drizzle of oil and grated Parmesan.
*For a winter version, substitute a small can of diced tomatoes with their juice and reduce the amount of water to 4 cups.