Monday, March 11, 2013

Angel Hair Pasta in a Light Tomato Cream Sauce with Fresh Basil

Delicate angel hair pasta tossed in a velvety-smooth tomato cream sauce with a flurry of grated Parmesan and Thai basil is the kind of meal that makes you wonder how something so easy can taste so unbelievably good. Thai basil is fresh and peppery against the lush sauce. Just a half a cup of light cream is all that's needed for a luxurious texture. The brightness of the tomatoes shine through the mellow cream. There's a classic balance of flavors, each one holding its own special place in the dish. 

When we sat down to Sunday dinner, my husband said..."oooh, this is good." I was too busy closing my eyes and savoring the first bite of pasta swirled around my fork. "Mmmmmmm, yes good, thank you," is what I managed to utter back, after regaining my senses. This recipe produces the best creamy tomato sauce I've made so far. I hope you try it. I'd love for you to experience the joy of this super simple Italian supper.     

Pair it with a side of lemony broccoli and/or crispy, juicy roasted chicken (recipes below) for a nicely balanced meal.

Angel Hair Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce Recipe

Some Notes:

The inspiration for this sauce came from Pioneer Woman's creamy tomato sauce. I used her suggestion of canned tomato sauce instead of canned plum tomatoes or canned whole peeled tomatoes. Tomato sauce has more body than the other choices which is a good thing here. From there, I veered off in my own direction. I decided on using light cream instead of heavy cream which most recipes suggest. A half cup of light cream is all that's needed for a luscious sauce that's neither too rich nor too heavy.

The wine adds another layer of flavor that I love but you can leave it out with good results.  

Thai basil gives this simple, voluptuous pasta dish a unique, lively kick. Regular basil would be just fine too.

I turn to Muir Glen Tomato products in all my recipes for their fresh taste. With an elemental sauce like this one, use the best tomato sauce your budget can afford. You'll be rewarded for it. Stick to Italian pasta brands too. Sometimes I go for the fancy artisan pastas. But in this recipe I used Barilla brand, sold in most supermarkets. Fresh pasta would be wonderful too. It's important not to overcook the angel hair. I usually take it out before the recommended time. It should still have a bite and not be a mushy mess.

If you want to, you can stir in some shrimp into the sauce as it simmers. But I like it plain and simple, often times, simple is best.

I've included two bonus recipes after this one. Lemony broccoli makes a satisfying side dish for a vegetarian supper.

This tomato sauce recipe has been featured on Top Inspired: Top 10 Healthy & Tasty Mediterranean Recipes and All For Women:  Healthy, Tasty & Easy Mediterranean Recipes  

Serves 4-6 with a side of lemony broccoli (recipe below)

You'll Need:
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 15 ounce cans of Muir Glen Organic Tomato Sauce (see notes)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced. I use a microplane zester to mince the garlic.
  • A drizzle of honey or a couple of pinches of sugar to balance the acid in the tomatoes.
  • 1/3 cup of red wine. I used a Cabernet Sauvignon. Use a wine that you'd drink.
  • 1/2 cup of light cream
  • A handful of fresh Thai basil or regular basil, torn or chopped.
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, rub it between your fingers when adding it to the sauce to release the flavor.
  • 2 dried bay leaves, optional. Remember to remove them from the sauce before serving
  • Olive oil for cooking 
  • Sea salt or kosher salt to taste
  • Fresh cracked pepper   
  • 1 lb box of angel hair pasta cooked al dente, according to the package instructions.
  • Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)

The Rundown:

Saute the onions in some olive oil, salt and pepper in a medium pot over medium heat until tender. Once the onions are soft, add the oregano, wine, tomato sauce, garlic, bay leaves, more pepper and a pinch of salt and a drizzle of honey. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and gently simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes or until the flavors have softened and melded together. Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaves and slowly stir in the light cream. Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil. Toss the cooked pasta with some of the sauce. Serve individual portions of the angel hair with sauce to each person's taste topped with more fresh basil and Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Lemony Broccoli Recipe 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and 2 or 3 heads of broccoli to the water. Boil for about 3-5 minutes or until the broccoli is fork tender and still bright green, not overcooked and mushy Make sure you don't cover the pot or you'll run the risk of overcooking ruining the bright green color. Serve with a couple of squeezes of fresh lemon juice, sea salt and grated Parmesan cheese.

Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Oregano Recipe 

Rinse a couple of bone-in chicken breasts and pat dry with paper towels. Place them in an oven safe pan and top each breast with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh cracked black pepper, a sprinkling of dried oregano and some garlic powder. Place the pan, uncovered, in the fridge for a few hours. This will help dry the chicken a bit, so the skin will crisp in the oven. I learned this trick from cookbook author, Amanda Hesser. When you're ready to roast the chicken, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Add some sea salt or kosher salt to the chicken and roast in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Turn the heat up to 425 and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts. Usually 35-40 minutes is sufficient cooking time for standard size bone-in chicken breasts. Take the chicken out of the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. Serve with more sea salt or a sprinkling of fleur de sel, more fresh cracked pepper and a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice. Put some extra lemon wedges at the table for serving and enjoy!

*** This basic chicken recipe is easy to tweak to your individual taste. A lemon/rosemary or lemon/fresh basil combo would be divine too. Use dried basil or rosemary when roasting it and finish with fresh basil or a tiny bit of diced fresh rosemary. Be careful with rosemary, it's very strong. A wee bit goes a very long way. So good with chicken! ***   


  1. One of my favourite dishes! Yours looks absolutely delicious!! Great post!! :)

    1. Hi Manu, it's one of mine too! I just love it! Thanks so much for the kind words and for stopping by.