The BBC Good Food logo
Classic spaghetti

Classic spaghetti

A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.11 ratingsRate
Magazine subscription – your first 5 issues for only £5!
  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Prep:
  • Easy
  • Serves 4

Whether you are a novice cook or simply want to improve your skills, follow our step-by-step recipe
for a delicious pasta dish that works every time

low insalt0g


  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves , peeled and crushed
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 20g pack basil leaves , chopped
  • 400g dried spaghetti (roughly three quarters of a 500g pack)
  • 1x 150g ball mozzarella


  • STEP 1

    Using a sharp knife, peel the onion, slice in half through the root and trim off the top. Place the onion, cut-side down, on a chopping board. With your knife parallel to the board, cut 3 slices through the onion, keeping the root intact. With knife point at root end, cut down through the onion, from top to bottom 4 times. Holding the root end, finely slice across the onion (see pic above), to give you small diced pieces.

  • STEP 2

    Set a large frying pan over medium heat and when hot, tip in the oil then onion. Cook for 5 mins until starting to soften, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, cook 2 mins more until the onions start to turn golden. When the onion has softened, tip in the tomatoes and half the basil. Leave to gently bubble for 15 mins until the sauce has thickened and looks pulpy. Stir occasionally and break up any large clumps of tomato with the back of your spoon.

  • STEP 3

    Pour water ¾ of the way up your largest pan. Heat over a high heat and add plenty of salt. When water has reached a rolling boil, place the spaghetti into the pan. As it softens, use your hands to push all of it into the water. Give it a stir to separate the pasta, then cook according to pack instructions, about 10 mins. Taste a strand of pasta. It should be just soft, but not mushy. Scoop out a cup of water before draining in a colander (this will help to loosen your sauce).

  • STEP 4

    Finishing touches: Tip the drained pasta back into its cooking pan, then pour over the tomato sauce. Give everything a good stir. The sauce should just coat the pasta, if it is thick and looks dry, stir in a few spoons of the pasta water. If it is watery, cook over a low heat until evaporated, stirring often. Use your hands to break the mozzarella into chunky pieces and stir through the pasta along with the remaining basil leaves. Serve straight away.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, March 2006


Comments, questions and tips

Rate this recipe

What is your star rating out of 5?

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Overall rating

A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.11 ratings

Sponsored content