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Creamy Spaghetti with Marinara & Mascarpone
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp. sun-dried tomato paste
1 tbsp. Calabrian chile paste or 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 ½ tsp. (about 1/2 palmful) dried oregano
1 tsp. (about 1/3 palmful) smoked paprika
½ cup sweet (red) vermouth or vodka
1 tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar
1 can (28 oz.) chopped or crushed Italian San Marzano tomatoes
1 lb. spaghetti
1 cup mascarpone cheese
Grated Pecorino-Romano, for topping
Torn fresh basil leaves, for topping
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
In a large deep skillet, heat the oil, three turns of the pan, over medium to medium-high. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic; season with salt and pepper. Stir the onion and garlic until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add about 1/2 cup water and cook, stirring often, until absorbed, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, chile paste, dried oregano, and paprika and stir until blended, about 1 minute. Add the vermouth and cook until absorbed, about 1 minute. Stir in the vinegar, then the tomatoes. Bring to a bubble. Reduce heat to low. Let the sauce simmer while you cook the pasta.
Salt the boiling water and add the pasta. Cook until 1 minute shy of the package directions. Scoop out about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta.
Stir the mascarpone into the sauce. Add the pasta and toss. Add some of the reserved cooking water if the pasta is dry. Toss the pasta until coated well, about 1 minute. Top the pasta with Pecorino and basil.