This is how it goes:
Bring a big pot of salted water to the boil. Add enough salt so that the water tastes like a well seasoned soup. Salting your pasta at the end is like starting your training for the olympics when the bus drops you off for the meet. Too little too late. Buy the good pasta; it makes a big difference. I like De Cecco, but there are plenty of others.
Finely chop about four cloves of garlic and get it nearly golden in the best olive oil that you have. (If you have someone who is not so crazy about garlic then just slice the garlic in half and remove once it is golden.) Add five fresh whole basil leaves, and stand back because they sputter. Season with a little salt, and off the heat, add a few red pepper flakes (1/4 teaspoon). Squish a 28 ounce can of San Marzano (a variety of plum tomato) in a separate bowl, with your hand, until they are pretty smooth. Yes you do need to use your hand. You need a chance to feel a tomato and get up close and personal with what you are eating. Now, still off the heat, add the tomato. Turn the heat on to a medium flame, and with another pinch of salt, simmer for at least half an hour. Chop up about a quarter pound of fresh mozzarella into 1 inch cubes. Rip up a few more basil leaves. Drop the pasta into the cooking water, about 1/2 a pound. When it is al dente, still a bit of that white line visible when you bite into it, and then drain well.
Taste your sauce. It should be delicious. Think about if the tomato needs a little more salt, not to make it taste like salt, but to taste the tomato. Or you might need another spill of olive oil to calm the acid of the tomato down (if you are using super good olive oil; if not, just add a tab of butter)
Get the pasta back into the dry pan. Add enough sauce to cover it well, and bring to a simmer for a minute, just give the pasta a chance to absorb some of the sauce. Taste again for salt. (can you believe it?) Turn off the flame. Add the ripped basil, the mozzarella cubes, and plenty of parmigiano reggiano.
That’s it. Pour yourself a glass of wine or water and tuck in to some serious noodles.