Spaghetti with Tomato sauce and Basil
20 ripe plum tomatoes
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to finish the dish
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Spaghetti
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 to 8 fresh basil leaves, well washed and dried, stacked and rolled into a cylinder and cut thinly crosswise into a chiffonade
1 ounce freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (½ cup)
To peel the tomatoes: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water nearby. Cut a small X on the bottom of each tomato. Ease about five tomatoes in the pot and cook, let boil for about 15 seconds, and then promptly move them to the waiting ice water. (Do this with the remaining tomatoes.) Pull off the skin with the tip of a paring knife. If you skin sticks, try a vegetable peeler using a gentle sawing motion. Cut the tomatoes in half and use your finger to flick out the seeds.
To cook the tomatoes: In a wide pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until quite hot. Add the tomatoes, crushed red pepper, and season lightly with salt and pepper. (I always start with a light hand with salt and pepper because as the tomatoes reduce, the salt will become concentrated.) Let the tomatoes cook for a few minutes to soften. Then, using a potato masher, chop the tomatoes finely. Cook the tomatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened. (You can make the sauce, which yields 3 cups, ahead of time. Refrigerate it for up to 2 days or freeze it for longer storage.)
To serve: Bring a large pot of amply salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until just shy of al dente. Reserve a little of the pasta cooking water. Add the pasta to the sauce and cook over medium-high heat, gently tossing the pasta and sauce together with a couple of wooden spoons and a lot of exaggerated movement (you can even shake the pan) until the pasta is just tender and the sauce, if any oil has separated from it, now looks cohesive. (If the sauce seems too thick, add a little pasta cooking liquid to it.) Take the pan off the heat, toss the butter, basil, and cheese with the pasta in the same manner (the pasta should take on an orange hue), and serve immediately.