This photo might look quite similar to some of the pasta dishes I've made recently--but I swear this one has it's own taste, different from its predecessors. It sums up perfectly what I look for in a pasta recipe, during the hot days of summer, here in the Central Valley. I want a dish that's easy to prepare, with as little cooking required as possible, but the taste shouldn't be compromised in a quest for simplicity. And I want to use some of the tomatoes that are piling up from my garden. Otherwise, I'll use them for one tomato sandwich after another, winding up face down in a gutter with tomatoes, bread, and a mayonnaise jar clutched in my hands. I'm in a 12 Step Program for Tomato Sandwich Addicts, so I know of from where I speak.
This recipe is from Marcella Hazan and is incredibly easy. The only thing that's cooked is the pasta, which is then tossed with freshly diced tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and basil leaves. The end result tastes bright and clean, with the pasta flavor unencumbered by butter, cheese or cream sauce. Basically, it's stone cold delicious. I'm submitting it to Presto Pasta Night, the wonderful event created by Ruth of Once Upon A Feast. Stop by her site on Friday and see the lovely pasta dishes from bloggers around the world.
Spaghetti "Aio E Oio" With Fresh Tomatoes And Basil
(Marcella Hazan The Essentials Of Classic Italian Cooking)
1 pound of spaghettini, (thin spaghetti)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
finely chopped red chili pepper, to taste
1/4 to 1/2 pound very fresh plum tomatoes (or substitute other variety)
a small handful fresh sweet basil leaves
1. Cook the pasta in well salted boiling water. As it does so, core and skin the tomatoes, using a blade peeler--or hold them over a flame briefly until the skin blisters and it can be peeled off. It might be difficult to use the blade peeler if you aren't using plum tomatoes. (Regular tomatoes have thinner skins, using the burner or blanching them for about 20 seconds in boiling water might be better.) After removing the skins, cut in half and seed and juice them, then cut in small dice.
2. Put the olive oil, about 1/2 teaspoon salt, the tomatoes, hot pepper (if using it) and garlic into a large bowl. When the pasta is cooked, drain well and add to the bowl. Add the basil, torn in smaller pieces if the leaves are big. Toss the pasta well, adding more salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve immediately.