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Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Bucatini Pasta

Course Dinner, Dinner for Guests, Special Occasion
Cuisine American/Italian Fusion, Italian
Keyword Heirloom Tomato Sauce, Tomato Sauce
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Sauce Reduction 1 hour
Servings 10 people
Author David of Sunset & Sewanee


  • food mill
  • chef knife
  • cutting board
  • saucepot
  • large stockpot for boiling pasta
  • saucier or saute pan
  • pasta scoop or colander for cooked pasta
  • cheese grater (optional)
  • Tongs
  • high-temperature rubber spatula (optional)


Heirloom Tomato Sauce and Pasta

  • ½ cup oil, olive extra-virgin
  • 10 large cloves of garlic, slightly smashed
  • 4-5 whole basil, with stems (at least 24 leaves), plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp pepper, red flakes
  • 12 whole tomato, heirloom preferably deep red
  • 6 tbsp butter, good quality (½ tbsp per portion)
  • 24 oz pasta, Bucatini, dried, or your favorite pasta (2-3oz per person)
  • 2 tbsp salt, kosher for 2 gallons of pasta water


  • ½ lb cheese, Pecorino Romano
  • 4 links sausage, Italian sweet or hot (optional)
  • To taste salt, kosher
  • 4 tbsp basil, chiffonade


Make Infused Oil

  • Use a small to medium saucepot and add ½ cup of high-quality olive oil over medium-low heat. To this, add (4-5) bunches of fresh basil with stems (24-26 leaves total). Next, peel and slightly smash ten large cloves of garlic and one tsp of red pepper flakes.
  • Slowly cook the garlic, basil, and red pepper flakes in the olive oil, occasionally turning the garlic and basil in the oil. Once the garlic cloves turn slightly brown, remove the oil from the heat and allow the oil to steep for an additional 15 minutes. After the oil has cooled and steeped, strain the oil, pulling red pepper, basil, and garlic out. Save the oil and discard the other ingredients. Reserve

Prep the Heirloom Tomatoes for Sauce

  • Heat a large pot of water over high heat.
  • While the pot is heating the water, fill halfway with ice and water in a large mixing bowl to shock the tomatoes as they come out of the boiling water. Reserve
  • Once the water has come to a boil, gently lower the heirloom tomatoes into the water for (1 -1½) minutes. After (1-1½) minutes, remove each tomato from the hot water with a slotted spoon or spider sieve and place it immediately into the reserved large mixing boil with the ice water. Allow the tomatoes to cool completely. Reserve

Set up a Food Mill

  • Set up a food mill over a larger container to catch the sauce as it immerges.
  • Slice each cooled tomato in quarters and place it in the food mill using a chef knife and a cutting board. Process the as to the directions of the type of food mill you are using. Continue processing until all the tomatoes have gone through the mill. Reserve

Alternative Method to the Food Mill

  • An alternative method to the food mill is to prep the tomatoes by using the tip of a small knife to cut an X in the bottom of each tomato. Then, core the tomatoes and prepare the boiling water and ice bath.
  • Once the water has come to a boil, carefully add the prepared tomatoes to the water and cook for one minute. After 1 minute, remove the tomato from the water and plunge them into the ice bath. Allow the tomatoes to completely cool (about 1½-2 minutes).
  • Next, use a small knife and peel the tomato from the X carved into the bottom. Once the tomato is peeled half tomato and carefully squeeze out the seeds preserving as much of the tomato meat as you can. Chop the tomato and reserve.

Cooking the Heirloom Tomato Sauce

  • Add half of the infused olive oil to a large saute pan or saucier pan to make the sauce. Heat the infused oil over medium heat. Add the pureed tomato from the food mill or the prepared chopped tomato when the oil is hot. Bring the mixture to a rapid simmer and reduce the heat to medium-low. Reduce the sauce by almost half (about 1 hour). Reserve

Cook the Pasta and Prepare the Sauce

  • Cook the pasta to the instructions on the pasta. I find (18) minutes works great for me with Bucatini. While the pasta is cooking, prepare a saute/saucier pan with about ½ cup of the reserved heirloom tomato sauce. Warm the sauce over low heat.
  • Add the cooked Bucatini straight into the tomato sauce. (Don't rinse the pasta!) Reserve some of the pasta water to help thicken!
  • Next, turn up the heat under the saute/saucier pan to medium. To this, add a knob (1-2 tbsp) of butter to the pasta and sauce. Turn gently with a rubber spatula or a set of tongs. It will depend on the pasta, but you may need to add extra heirloom tomato sauce. To tighten up the sauce, add a little of the reserved starchy pasta water.
  • If you wish (optional) to add ground-cooked Italian sausage, pecorino romano cheese, do this now. Use a rubber spatula or set of tongs and gently turn the bucatini until both are well coated.

Serving Bucatini Pasta with Heirloom Tomato Sauce

  • Gently pick up a portion of the pasta and sauce with a set of tongs, and place it in the center of the dish/bowl, turning as you lower it down. Do your best to leave the pasta in a mound in the center.

Garnish (optional)

  • Garnish with additional grated cheese, chiffonade of basil, Italian ground sausage, and serve.