Everyone needs a back-pocket recipe; something they can pull out when time is short, energy levels are low and money is tight. This recipe - a riff on Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta - is a strong contender. It's quick to make (basically zero prep, unless you count chopping an onion), requires very little from the cook and uses ingredients you can pick up from nearly anywhere. Trust me, I know. I made it in a tiny Air BnB kitchen in Bordeaux, France, while going off-road from my normal life (as a writer and recipe developer in New Zealand). The funny thing about travel is that while you idealise eating out, discovering newness and embracing difference, sometimes you crave normality and comfort (this is especially true if your travel companions include kids). So, one night, in the spirit of Food52's Off-Road Recipes series (and in the spirit of saving our meagre funds), I put Martha's classic recipe to the test. I plumped for canned cherry tomatoes and their juice for a more tomato-y take on the original, and tweaked the method a tiny touch. Essentially, this is a recipe ripe for reinvention. I'd also recommend adding olives or anchovies for an umami hit, and serving with a lemon and olive-oil dressed arugula salad on the side. But where you take it next is up to you... —The Kitchenmaid
Set a large, heavy pot or pan (depending on what your kitchen has) over medium heat.
Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, followed by the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and tomatoes. Cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the linguine (break in half if your pan is small) and 1 cup water. Stir and bring to a simmer, continuing to stir frequently until the pasta is al dente (about 9-10 minutes) and the sauce has thickened. Add a little more water during the cooking process if it looks dry (some types of pasta absorb more than others).
Remove from the heat and season well with salt and pepper to taste. Stir through most of the basil leaves.
Divide the pasta between serving bowls and strew the remaining basil on top. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil on top. Serve with lashings of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.