recipe: burst tomato pasta + herby greens
Hello from recently-in-Colorado! Though actually publishing this post is a little delayed, I wrote it from the land of aspen trees and wild foxes, and so, so many pretty flowers.
In between being completely overwhelmed by the insane beauty (evidence above), and eating ourselves silly on cheese (below), we spent our vacation week drinking wine and cooking the simplest of summer meals (and going to the rodeo, but more on that to come!).
First on the cooking list was a classic pasta that we made ten times last year, and have since been counting down the days until we could do it again. With just a few ingredients, it’s one of those dishes worth waiting to make until you can get the best possible tomatoes, ideally at the peak of summer. By cooking the little guys in hot oil, you force them to burst and almost caramelize slightly, condensing the flavor and creating a lighting coating for al dente spaghetti.
Pair it with an easy summer salad – fresh greens and handfuls of chopped herbs – and crusty bread for sopping.
Follow the meal with fresh peaches and dark chocolate, and maybe a little more wine. Cheers to you, and vacation every day.
burst tomato pasta
loosely based on a Melissa Clark recipe, but paired down to remove the pancetta and butter so the tomatoes shine
- ½ - ¾ lb spaghetti
- one quart of mini tomatoes – anything that looks delicious and juicy, the sweeter the better. Avoid those that are too acidic, as that flavor will be exacerbated.
- olive oil
- red chili flakes
- salt, pepper
1. Put a pot of water onto boil, large enough for the pasta.
2. Chop garlic
3. Chop or tear basil.
4. Chop or tear mozzarella into half inch pieces
5. Remove any stem from the tomatoes and slice each one in half.
6. Boil your spaghetti according to its instructions.
7. Heat oil in a pan. When hot enough, add garlic and sauté. Add a pinch of chili flakes. (reality check – we brilliantly forgot to buy chili, and without our go-to-bodega down the block, settled on marash peppers in its place. Chili flakes are best here, but really use what you have).
8. Once the garlic turns golden and fragrant, add the tomato pieces. You should hear them sizzle a bit as they goes in. Stir it all around to get everything evenly distributed, and then flatten into one layer.
9. Let cook roughly 5 - 8 minutes until the tomatoes start to burst, releasing their juices, and shrivel slightly.
10. Once tomatoes are fairly cooked, add cooked spaghetti directly to pan. (Ideally you want to cook the pasta until it's a few minutes away from done so it can keep cooking in the tomato juice). If mixture seems too dry, add a bit of the cooking water as well.
11. Continue to cook and occasionally stir for another few minutes to bring the sauce together.
12. Take pasta off the heat and toss in the majority of mozzarella and basil, as well as a bit of good sea salt and fresh pepper.
13. When serving, top with a drizzle of olive oil, extra mozzarella, basil, a touch of salt and red chili to taste.
herby greens salad
No recipe needed. Buy the freshest greens you see, and whatever herbs your heart desires. We landed on a bag of mixed leaves and something that was described as “tall French basil” that looked nothing like any basil I’ve seen. Chop herbs, mix olive oil and lemon or your favorite dressing, toss on salad with salt and pepper. We got all vacation-fancy and splurged $3 on edible flowers. They added texture, yes, but secretly neither of us loved them and we ended up with a pile of sad petals. Stay simple, stick to the basics and enjoy.