- 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, certified D.O.P. if possible
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 7 garlic cloves, peeled and slivered
- Small dried whole chile, or pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large fresh basil sprig, or 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, more to taste
- Pour tomatoes into a large bowl and crush with your hands. Pour 1 cup water into can and slosh it around to get tomato juices. Reserve.
- In a large skillet (do not use a deep pot) over medium heat, heat the oil. When it is hot, add garlic.
- As soon as garlic is sizzling (do not let it brown), add the tomatoes, then the reserved tomato water. Add whole chile or red pepper flakes, oregano (if using) and salt. Stir.
- Place basil sprig, including stem, on the surface (like a flower). Let it wilt, then submerge in sauce. Simmer sauce until thickened and oil on surface is a deep orange, about 15 minutes. (If using oregano, taste sauce after 10 minutes of simmering, adding more salt and oregano as needed.) Discard basil and chile (if using).
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
- 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
- ⅓ cup vodka
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ cup fresh chopped basil
- ½ - ¾ cup half and half
- 2 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
- 16 oz. penne pasta
- fresh black pepper, to taste
- In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat; add onions and garlic and cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in tomatoes and vodka and continue cooking the mixture for 5-7 minutes until slightly reduced, stirring occasionally.
- Then stir in the tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, salt, and black pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes until reduced by half, stirring occasionally.
- In the meantime, cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Transfer tomato mixture to a food processor or blender, add basil, and purée until smooth. Return sauce to the pan and stir in half and half. You want creamy and slightly sweet consistency. Start with ½ cup of half and half, taste, and add more if needed. Cook until warmed through, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in parmesan cheese and then the cooked pasta. Toss to combine.
- Serve immediately with additional sprinkle of cheese and basil, if desired.
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