Lately, I have had more tomatoes in my garden than I have known what to do with. This is completely amazing to me, particularly in light of the blossom-end rot I was fighting earlier in the season—this had me convinced (around mid-June) that 2016 was not going to be our year for tomatoes.
Boy, was I wrong. A little research on the interwebs turned up 1) calcium deficiency as the problem and 2) regular spraying with a calcium-containing mixture as an easy, effective solution. I wasn’t sure if my five tomato plants would make it: the plants themselves were looking sickly and I was doubtful that they’d produce.
But produce they did.
If you don’t have home-grown tomatoes, don’t worry. They’re easy to find at this time of year: look for those gorgeous, fat heirloom tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market, a local co-op, or your grocery.
Despite my concerns early in the season, my tomato haul for 2016 was truly impressive. I filled three sheet pans—my oven’s limit—with sliced tomatoes to make sauce THREE DIFFERENT TIMES. This left plenty of tomatoes for a monster-sized batch of pico de gallo, BLTs, a couple of Caprese salads—and there were STILL tomatoes left over.
I also had just a bit of basil left in the garden after cutting down most of my basil HEDGE to make pesto, and so I decided upon this no-sauce pasta as an easy, fresh way to use up these remaining gifts of summer.
The meal comes together in the time that it takes to boil your pasta.
Some recipes tell you to cook the tomatoes down significantly, but I prefer them added to the pasta at the end: the residual heat of the pasta is enough to warm them through, but they retain their texture and vibrance.
Here’s how it works:
While the pasta cooks, you simply sauté garlic with some pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper in a good amount of extra-virgin olive oil over very low heat. Chop your gorgeous tomatoes into bite-size chunks, and chiffonade your basil. When the pasta is done, you take everything off the heat and toss your pasta in the oil mixture. Add in some butter, your tomatoes, and basil, and gently toss again. I like to top the dish with some shaved Parmesan cheese (a vegetable peeler works like a dream for this!) and more freshly ground black pepper.
BOOM. You’ve got a healthy, gorgeous dinner: it’s a summer celebration in your mouth.
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 pinch dried pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 cup basil
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper (more for finishing)
- 5 medium tomatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
- 1 lb. dry spaghetti, linguine, or bucatini
- ½ cup thinly shaved Parmesan cheese, for garnish
- Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to directions.
- About 5 minutes before the pasta is finished cooking, add the oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and black pepper to a skillet over low heat. Sauté until the garlic is fragrant and just barely colored but not burned. Remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, chiffonade the basil (this should be done right before serving or the leaves tend to turn black).
- Drain the pasta well and add it back to the empty pot. Pour the olive oil mixture over the pasta and toss well to coat. Add the tomatoes and basil; toss gently. Serve topped with the shaved Parmesan cheese and a few grinds of black pepper. Enjoy!
A great weekend cooking project, this “Saucy Two-Step” recipe takes a while to make, but it’s fairly hands-off and the resulting sauce is to die for.
This great party snack could not be easier to put together. I love to make this with fresh tomatoes during the summer, but I’ve also been known to serve it at Super Bowl parties.