Italian cooking and ginger are two things I've never seen cross paths before. I'm sure there's some region in Italy where it's popular, but I think it's safe to say that the majority of Italian cuisine pays little attention to it. Hence my curiosity after seeing this recipe from Viana La Place, half the duo behind Cucinia Rustica and other classic Italian cookbooks. Considering her pedigree, I knew this wasn't some reckless experiment. Ginger in a tomato sauce was done for a reason.
Turns out, it's a rather provocative addition to a basic tomato sauce. I loved the spicy sweetness. If a clean, classic tomato sauce is what you're after, this isn't it—but the change was welcome. Though the recipe called for canned tomatoes, I think it'd be even better with good fresh ones. (Just halve them, squeeze out the seeds, and continue.) The fresher taste would play even better with the ginger.
- Active time: 10
- Total time:25
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons finely julienned fresh ginger
- 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, or 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
- 12 ounces spaghetti
- 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, then drain, reserving some pasta cooking water.
In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook briefly until fragrant. Add ginger and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes to the pan and gently crush them with a wooden spoon. Once boiling, turn the heat to a simmer and cook until the tomatoes are just broken down enough and the juices have thickened, 10-15 minutes.
Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Toss the spaghetti with the sauce and basil leaves, adding a little pasta water if necessary to create the right consistency. Serve immediately.