Thursday, May 18, 2006

Friday Food on Thursday: Spring and Summer Pasta

I'm a stop on the It's a Girl blog book tour tomorrow, but I wanted to make sure I got a recipe (of sorts) in here anyway. (Check out Andi's blog, by the way, for more on the blog book tour, and to wish her a happy birthday.)

So this is pasta sauce for when you don't feel like making pasta sauce. It makes enough for a pound of pasta, more or less, and you can use any chunky or curly pasta you like. I like to make it with celletani, but ziti or rigatoni or fusili would be fine.

Here's what you need:

1 pound pasta
1-1/2 to 2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes
1 tsp. chopped, minced, or pressed garlic
olive oil
8-10 large basil leaves
1 8 oz. ball of smoked or fresh mozarella
salt and pepper
grated parmesan

Boil water for the pasta. Add the pasta. While the pasta is boiling, slice the tomatoes in half. Or, don't. I think the sauce is juicier if you slice at least some of them, but it's certainly not necessary to do them all. Dump them into the bowl you'll serve from. Glug some olive oil over them--a couple tablespoonsful at first. Stir the garlic in with the tomatoes, and sprinkle in some salt (or maybe not, depending on what cheese you use) and pepper. In the height of summer you might want to use big, juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into bite-size chunks, but right now they have no taste, so I'm using grape tomatoes, which are quite delicious. If you wanted to get fancy and use some yellow ones in with the red, that would be lovely, but completely unnecessary.

Cut the mozarella into small chunks. Smaller than bite-size, but don't feel that you need to be terribly precise. We prefer to use smoked mozarella, but fresh is yummy too. Or you could probably use feta cheese, though I usually find it a little too salty. Toss it in with the tomatoes.

Chop or slice the basil leaves into little shreds. Add that to the tomatoes, too. Stir it all around so all the flavors meld.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add to the tomato mixture. Toss it all together so the cheese melts a bit and the pasta is lightly coated with olive oil and tomato juice. If it seems dry, add some more olive oil or, if you like, balsamic vinegar.

Serve hot or at room temperature, with grated parmesan. If you happened to have some toasted pine nuts around you could toss them on top as well, but again, it will be plenty tasty without. I've also been known to throw a handful of frozen petite green peas into the hot pasta, mostly because Nick will pick out the tomatoes and I want to kid myself that he's still eating some kind of vegetable. But that's just me.


Becca said...

I made it tonight with feta and it was delicious! Raves from M, until she got a bite with too much garlic--I only used one clove, but it was pretty big, so I think next time (which there definitely will be), I'll use less. Thanks!

caroline said...

Mmm, your recipe reminds me, I"ve been meaning to post a recipe for pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes -- a good way to get that summer-y tomato pasta flavor when the tomatoes aren't quite fabulous yet. I'll post it soon.

And Becca's comment reminds me that when we do your recipe, we often saute the garlic for a minute, just to soften its sharp bite...

Libby said...

Oh, good point, Caroline. It also seems to mellow the longer it sits in the tomato and oil mixture.