Classic Tomato Spaghetti

Updated July 12, 2016
This image courtesy of David Loftus

This pasta sauce takes minutes to cook. What’s great about this recipe for beginner cooks is that once you’ve done it a few times you can add other simple ingredients to your basic tomato sauce to completely transform it. Check out the end of the recipe, where I’ve given you some ideas to get started.




Kid FriendlyYes

Recipe CourseMain Course

Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Halal, Kosher, Low Cholesterol, Low Saturated Fat, Low-fat, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegetarian

MealDinner, Lunch


Taste and TextureCheesy, Garlicky, Herby, Spiced, Tangy, Umami


  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 fresh red chile
  • A small bunch of fresh basil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • Olive oil
  • 1 x 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 4 ounces Parmesan cheese


Peel and finely slice the garlic. Finely slice your chile (halve and seed it first if you don’t want the sauce too hot). Pick the basil leaves off the stalks and put to one side. Finely chop the stalks.

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook accoding to the package instructions. Meanwhile, put a large saucepan on a medium heat and add 2 good lugs of olive oil. Add the garlic, chile, and basil stalks and give them a stir. When the garlic begins to brown slightly, add most of the basil leaves and the canned tomatoes. Turn the heat up high and stir for a minute. Season with salt and pepper. Drain the spaghetti in a colander then transfer it to the pan of sauce and stir well. Taste and add more salt and pepper if you think it needs it.


These can be added to your tomato sauce when it’s finished. Just stir in and warm through.

Add a handful of baby spinach leaves to the sauce at the same time you add the pasta—when the leaves have wilted remove from the heat and serve with some crumbled goat’s cheese on top.

A few handfuls of cooked shrimp and a handful of chopped arugula with the juice of ½ a lemon.

A can of tuna drained and flaked into the sace with ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon, some black olives and the juice of ½ a lemon.

A handful of fresh or frozen peas and fava beans.



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Made this for dinner and loved it. It's delicious. However, it's hard to believe it's supposed to cover a full pound of pasta; it is extremely minimally sauced. I have read all about how Americans over-sauce pasta and that the Italian way is to be quite sparing with it, but even so, for my tastes, this recipe adequately sauces only half a pound of pasta. Will be making it again, though. Fast and easy and tasty as can be.


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