Weeknight pasta doesn't get easier—or tastier—than this speedy marinara sauce that calls on just a handful of ingredients. You'll need a few pantry-friendly staples, the most important being good-quality finely chopped canned tomatoes (they are the heart of this sauce after all). But don't forget the garlic, basil, bucatini (or spaghetti, or almost any type of long pasta really), and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for sprinkling either. The final touch, which I borrowed from my colleague Ella Quittner, who actually inspired this recipe: a swoop of ricotta on the plate, so you get a forkful of creamy cheese in every bite. —Erin Alexander
Test Kitchen Notes
This recipe was developed in partnership with Mutti®. —The Editors
Slice each clove of garlic as thin as possible—aim for 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch—then cut each clove-worth of slices in half, so you end up with a bunch of thin half-moons.
Set a heavy, non-reactive pan over a medium-low flame and add 2 tablespoons of butter. Let it just melt, and add the garlic. Keep the heat low—we don’t want the garlic to brown. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon until the garlic has softened and is just beginning to go translucent, turning the heat down if needed, about 2 minutes.
Add the finely chopped tomatoes and the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Let everything come to a bubbling simmer, stirring to mix here and there. Keep at a bubbling simmer until the tomato sauce is slightly darker in color, and has thickened—about 10 minutes or so. If the sauce is still looking a little thin, let simmer for an extra few minutes. (I usually like to boil my pasta while the sauce cooks.)
Meanwhile, take a few basil leaves at a time, roll them, and slice into ribbons about 1/4-inch thick.
When the pasta is done, add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt to the sauce, taste, then add more as needed (I sometimes like to add another big pinch).
Remove the sauce from heat, stir in the basil, the pasta, the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and serve. To serve, add a good-size swoosh of ricotta onto the plate, then add the bucatini marinara on top, and sprinkle with more Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Erin Alexander is the Associate Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.