Classic tomato spaghetti

“A fantastic introduction to spaghetti pasta for kids – masses of amusing to eat, and an extremely good base for including all styles of other fresh elements. ”

Classic tomato spaghetti
Classic tomato spaghetti


1 bunch of fresh basil
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 kg ripe tomatoes, or 2 x 400g tins of quality chopped tomatoes
olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar
480 g dried wholewheat spaghetti
15 g Parmesan cheese


Pick the basil leaves onto a chopping board (reserving a few babies leaves to garnish), then roughly chop the remaining leaves and finely chop the stalks.
Peel and finely slice the onion and garlic. If using fresh, cut the tomatoes in half, then roughly chop them or carefully open the tins of tomatoes.
Put a saucepan on medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the onion, then cook for around 7 minutes, or until soft and lightly golden.
Stir in the garlic and basil stalks for a few minutes, then add the fresh or tinned tomatoes and the vinegar.
Season with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper, then continue cooking for around 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the chopped basil leaves, then reduce to low and leave to tick away. Meanwhile…
Carefully fill large pot three-quarters of the way up with boiling water, add a tiny pinch of salt and bring back to the boil.
Add the spaghetti and cook according to packet instructions – you want to cook your pasta until it is al dente. This translates as ‘to the tooth’ and means that it should be soft enough to eat, but still have a bit of a bite and firmness to it. 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.
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.


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.

It’s important to season the cooking water so that the pasta can absorb it as it cooks.

Reserving and adding a splash of pasta cooking water to your sauce helps to loosen it if it’s a bit thick.

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