Pasta is an easy go-to weekday meal. You cook it as per the packet's instruction, make (or, let's be real: reheat) a sauce on the side, combine in a bowl, top with parmesan and cracked pepper, and serve. But there are a few reasons homemade pasta often doesn't quite have the same silky-smooth texture and rich flavor as it does in a true Italian restaurant. To demystify the art of making the perfect at-home weeknight pasta, we headed into the NYC kitchen of celebrity chef Scott Conant (he owns The Ponte restaurant in L.A.). Often referred to as "the Maestro of pasta," Conant has perfected the art of the pantry pasta.
A few weeks ago, he showed us a step-by-step on how to easily re-create one of his favorite recipes in 10 minutes or less. Ready to taste the best pasta of your life? From exactly how much salt to add to your water to how long to cook your sauce or how to use your pasta water, Conant walks us through the secret behind a next-level plate of pasta. The best part? This bucatini recipe with heirloom tomatoes takes minutes to make and only requires a handful of ingredients—but you'll never guess from its delicious taste.
Scott Conant's Top Pasta Tips
1. Make sure the pasta water is generously salted. You want it to taste almost like a broth so it imparts flavor to the pasta itself.
2. Minimal and fresh ingredients are the fundamentals of a go-to pasta recipe.
3. When boiling your pasta, stop short of cooking it al dente. Drain and add it directly to the sauce with some reserved pasta water to cook the rest of the way through. The sauce will coat the pasta and give it an incredibly silky texture, and your pasta will be perfectly cooked.
Scott Conant's Bucatini With Heirloom Baby Tomato Sauce
Dried bucatini, good quality
2 tbsp. garlic, sliced thin
2 quart mixed cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp. oregano, chopped
2 tbsp. basil leaves, chiffonade
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt, kosher, as needed
Crushed red pepper flakes, as needed
In a sauté pan, heat oil slightly. Add garlic slices and a good pinch of crushed red pepper and sauté for one minute. There should be no color on the garlic. Add oregano to the garlic and oil and lightly cook for 15 seconds.
Add cherry tomatoes to the pan and continue to sauté. Season with a little salt. Cherry tomatoes will release their juices. Continue cooking until fairly dry. The sauce should be chunky, fresh looking, and not too thin. Adjust seasoning.
When ready to serve, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil (should season with salt to where it taste like broth).
Reheat the sauce in a large skillet over medium heat.
Cook the pasta until not quite al dente. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce to finish cooking in the sauce.
Add a little of the pasta cooking liquid to loosen the sauce if needed. Add basil in the last couple of minutes of the cooking process. Divide among warm, large shallow bowls. Top with fresh parmesan, to taste.
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Next Up: Foodies say pasta water is "liquid gold"—here's how to use it.
This post was originally published on November 20, 2017, and has since been updated.