The pool is closed, and the nights are cool, and yet when I throw on jeans and an Oxford, I’m wishing I’d gone with a tee-shirt by sometime around noon. It smells like fall, but still feels like summer might come back to visit. It’s a bumper season at the farmer’s market, too – there are bins of apples (it’s been an early season here) and new-dug potatoes, but there are also a few baskets of gem-like cherry tomatoes hiding in a corner, not far from a bushel of late peaches.
I’ve been bored with summer cooking lately, so I was tempted to fast forward to stews and breads and bacon-studded goodness, but summer is far too fleeting around here to not really appreciate these last few weeks of having it – or something like it – around. And, hence, here is this super-simple pasta dinner, that shines because of those last few sweet, vine-ripened beauties and the intense leaves on our now-leggy basil plants.
I always cringe a little when food writers and recipe authors say this, because I believe you can make good food with imperfect ingredients a good portion of the time – but do be sure to use really good ingredients here – they’re the star of the show, and there’s no cooking or fancy techniques to hide behind.
Linguine with Fresh Tomatoes
(Serves 2-3 adults; adapted, generously, from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa at Home”)
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 – 3/4 pound linguine fini pasta (or other long, thin, pasta)
3/4 cup to 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Combine the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, basil leaves, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl. Cover and let marinate at room temperature for 4 hours. Or, if you didn’t read the recipe until right before you put the water on to boil, microwave the tomato mixture for about a minute.
Bring a large pot of water salted with 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt to a boil, and cook the pasta until it’s tender but still has bite. Drain and add the pasta to the bowl of tomatoes. Add the Parmesan cheese and toss so that it melts. If the pasta feels stiff, add a bit more olive oil until it’s to your taste. Serve with Parmesan and additional basil leaves, if you like.