There are nights I find myself standing in my pantry, foot tapping, trying to decide what I'm going to feed my family for dinner since I neglected to go food shopping and the fridge is all but bare. I'm all too familiar with the accidental empty fridge and have always learned to keep a few key pantry staples available for just such an occasion. Some ingredients I find useful to store and pack a big punch with little effort are dried mushrooms, tinned anchovies, canned tomatoes and tomato paste. I always seem to have an overabundance of onion and garlic, since they accompany most of the meals I prepare—I consider them to be pantry staples as well. Simple and satisfying, this pasta dish packs a flavor bomb with each bite! You won't miss the fridge-fresh ingredients one bit. —KitchenComa
onion, thinly sliced
cloves garlic, thinly sliced
anchovy fillets, minced
dried chili flakes
dried porcini mushrooms
mushroom soaking liquid
(28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes
Parmesan for serving (optional)
Fresh basil for serving (optional)
In This Recipe
In a bowl, soak the mushrooms in hot water for 20-30 minutes or until they become soft. Strain the mushrooms and reserve the liquid. Roughly chop the mushrooms and set aside. You can start this step while you get your pasta water ready and gather your ingredients.
Heat a large pot of salted water over high heat and cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Strain the pasta reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and sauté for 3-5 minutes or until the onions begin to caramelize and take on some color.
Add the sliced garlic, anchovies and crushed chili flakes and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes, stirring constantly until the anchovies melt into the oil.
Now add the tomato paste and porcini mushrooms and continue to sauté for another 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add the sherry and let it reduce for a few minutes while scrapping up all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved mushroom soaking liquid, tomatoes and salt and turn the heat to medium high.
Bring the sauce to a gentle boil then reduce to a simmer and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes. Use a potato masher or the back of your spoon to gently crush the tomatoes as the sauce cooks.
Add the butter to the sauce and stir until just melted. Turn the heat to low and add the cooked spaghetti. Toss until all the noodles are evenly coated. Let the pasta and sauce cook together over low to medium-low heat until the pasta absorbs some of the sauce, adding some of the reserved pasta water to help thin out the sauce if it becomes too thick.
Serve immediately garnished with fresh Parmesan and basil.