Serves 4 to 6
In a large stockpot, bring the water, with or without the optional salt, to a boil.
Strain the tomatoes, reserving the juice separately. Break the tomatoes into small pieces.
Pour the oil into a large sauté pan set on medium-high heat and cook the garlic and red pepper flakes for 3 minutes. Add the tomato pieces, shaking the pan gently to reduce the oil splatter, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the salt, black pepper, oregano and basil, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the reserved tomato juice, bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt to taste.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions until just tender. Drain the pasta well and return it to the pot.
Add the sauce to the pasta, stirring continuously to ensure even coating, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes over medium heat. Turn off the heat, add the cheese, and toss until it's distributed evenly.
CHEF'S TIP: I think Italian canned tomatoes are far superior to anything else on the market. They're usually picked and canned when they're ripe and at the peak of flavor. The result is much sweeter than that produced by their American counterparts. Look for them in an Italian delicatessen.
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