Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes

I recently found this simple recipe for using up some of those fresh, summer, from the garden or farmer's market tomatoes that start showing up at this time of year. It suggests using cherry, currant or grape tomatoes; we used sunsweet cherry tomatoes and it was absolutely fabulous. I personally think you could use any kind of tomato that tastes really great, cooking it in the pan will only intensify the flavor. Maybe even cut up a regular tomato into smaller pieces and use that, but probably for less cooking time.

The recipe doesn't make a lot of sauce, and you may be left wondering how in the world this is ever even going to taste good or coat the pieces of spaghetti, but trust me, it does. Somehow the flavor coats each strand of spaghetti, the flavor is just perfect, plus you have pieces of cooked tomatoes and basil mixed in, and you have perfection!

Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes-serves 4

Olive oil, enough to swirl and cover the bottom of a large skillet
2 pints of cherry, currant, and/or grape tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (we used garlic powder, not actual garlic--works just as well)
1 pound of spaghetti (we used thin spaghetti)
1/3 C thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 C grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (we used 3/4 to 1 C because Derk isn't a huge fan of this kind of cheese, just enough to add some cheesiness and flavor to it, but not overpower it)
Coarsely ground black pepper

-Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
-Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half of tomatoes, sprinkle with salt, and cook, tossing occasionally, until tomatoes start to blister and collapse, 3-5 minutes. Add remaining tomatoes and cook, tossing once, for 2-3 minutes more.
-With a wooden spoon, push tomatoes to one side of pan to make room for garlic. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 3-4 minutes, then stir gently to mix garlic and tomatoes together. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally and gently pressing tomatoes to release juices, until all tomatoes have collapsed and sauce is juicy and thick, about 4 minutes more. Remove from heat.
-Cook pasta until al dente. Meanwhile, gently reheat sauce. Drain pasta and immediately toss with sauce and basil. Add half of cheese and toss; add remaining cheese and toss again. Season with pepper and serve at once.

Note: I just discovered this trick when cooking pasta. Probably not exactly healthy, but it tastes really great. When directions for cooking pasta say to cook it in salted, boiling water, really give it a good amount of salt, so it's salty water, not just a pinch. You want to taste it! Then when the pasta is cooked, taste a strand of pasta before you mix it with the sauce and you'll see what I mean. It makes a big difference.