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Classic Tomato Spaghetti

Once you’ve made this a few times you can add other simple ingredients, such as baby spinach, chopped rocket leaves, or fresh or frozen peas, to your basic tomato sauce to completely transform it


  • a bunch of fresh basil

  • 1 medium onion

  • 2 cloves of garlic

  • 1kg ripe tomatoes or 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

  • olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar

  • sea salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 500g dried spaghetti

  • 15g Parmesan cheese


  • 1.

    Pick the basil leaves onto a chopping board

  • 2.

    (reserving a few baby leaves to garnish), then roughly chop the remaining leaves and finely chop the stalks.

  • 3.

    Peel and finely slice the onion and garlic.

  • 4.

    If using fresh, cut the tomatoes in half, then roughly chop them or carefully open the tins of tomatoes.

  • 5.

    Put a saucepan on a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the onion, then cook for around 7 minutes, or until soft and lightly golden.

  • 6.

    Stir in the garlic and basil stalks for a few minutes, then add the fresh or tinned tomatoes and the vinegar.

  • 7.

    Season with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper, then continue cooking for around 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • 8.

    Stir in the chopped basil leaves, then reduce to low and leave to tick away. Meanwhile…

  • 9.

    Use the timings on the packet instructions as a guide, but try some just before the time is up to make sure it’s perfectly cooked.

  • 10.

    Once the pasta is done, ladle out and reserve a cup of the cooking water and keep it to one side, then drain in a colander over the sink and tip the spaghetti back into the pot. Stir the spaghetti into the sauce, adding a splash of the pasta water to loosen, if needed. Serve with the reserved basil leaves sprinkled over the top and use a microplane to finely grate the Parmesan cheese, then sprinkle over.

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