2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole plum tomatoes (such as Di Napoli)
3 cups water
5 cloves garlic, peeled
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Hot red pepper flakes, to taste
Leaves from ½ bunch fresh basil
1 pound high-quality durum wheat spaghetti (such as Rustichella d’Abruzzo)
1½ ounces “finishing” (flavorful, high-quality) extra virgin olive oil
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1. Remove the tomatoes from the can, one at a time. Break each one open and scrape out the seeds with your hand, allowing the juice and seeds to fall back into the can. Drop the seeded tomatoes into a bowl.
2. When all of the tomatoes are seeded, break them up with your hands and strain the juice from the cans back over them. Pour the 3 cups of water into the cans, then pour that through the strainer into the bowl with the tomatoes.
3. Place the garlic cloves on a cutting board. Smash each one with the side of a chef’s knife and smear it slightly with a sprinkling of kosher salt.
4. Scrape the smashed garlic and salt into an 8-quart heavy-bottom pot. Add the olive oil, set over medium-low heat, cover and stew slowly until the garlic is soft and melted in texture but not browned, about 10 minutes.
5. Add the tomatoes along with their juice and the water to the pot. Season with some salt, pepper and a touch of hot red pepper flakes. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, skimming the foam but not the oil. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, until the oil has emulsified with the rest of the ingredients and the sauce has reduced by approximately two thirds, about 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 2/3 of the basil leaves. You should have about 5 cups of sauce.