15 Minute Tomato and Basil Pasta

15 Minute Tomato and Basil Pasta
Recipe type: Main Dish
Here are quick recipes for preparing dinner on Wednesday night when you’ve just come home from the market and are short on time. Your menu might include a fresh salad made from market produce (and topped with some diced cheese from Hill Acres Pride) or a side dish of blanched vegetables such as broccoli or green beans. For this, you can simply your life by blanching/boiling the vegetables in the pasta water before you add the pasta. Just cook for the appropriate amount of time and scoop out into a bowl, leaving the water in the pot for the pasta. Add a dollop of olive oil or butter to the veggies and serve with the main course.
  • Wine
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1 Pint cherry tomatoes or 4 large regular tomatoes
  • 1 bunch basil
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • Parmigiano reggiano, Grana padano, or ricotta salada cheese to grate
  • 6-8 ounces pasta
  1. Pour yourself a glass of wine. If you don’t know what to drink or where to find it, check out David McDuff’s Food and Wine Trail at http://mcduffwine.blogspot.com/. Begin drinking the wine.
  2. Fill a large (5 quart or larger) saucepan with water, add a tablespoon of salt, cover and bring to a boil.
  3. While the water is coming to a boil, wash the cherry tomatoes and basil. Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Pick the basil leaves from the stems and spin in a salad spinner or wrap up in a tea cloth to dry. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Cut the basil into a chiffonade. “What’s that, you ask?” Simply place the largest basil leaf on your cutting board and stack the leaves up on top of it. Grab the bottom of the big leaf and roll the stack into a nice tight cigar shape; use a very sharp knife to cut slices in the cigar about ⅛ of an inch wide (you may have to do this several times for a full bunch of basil). Curl your fingers under when you do this if you want to keep your fingernails and the tips of your fingers.
  4. If you are using regular-sized tomatoes you will want to skin, seed and chop them before you prepare the pasta sauce. To skin tomatoes, drop them into the pot of boiling water for about a minute. Lift out with a slotted spoon and cut into the skin with a sharp knife; you should then be able to then peel the skin from the flesh very easily. Cut in half and squeeze gently with the cut side down over the sink; the seeds and interior liquid will pop out. Then place on your cutting board and chop into a one-inch dice.
  5. Place the olive oil in a large saucepan at medium heat and add the chopped garlic; cook slowly without browning. While the garlic is beginning to cook grate the cheese into a bowl.
  6. When the pasta water comes to a boil add the pasta. You can use any kind of pasta you prefer; you will cook the pasta to the ‘al dente’ stage which means that there is a bit of resistance to your teeth at the core. The pasta will continue to cook after draining.
  7. While the pasta is cooking you will finish the sauce. The garlic should be only slightly browned (a light golden color is your goal) and the olive oil (and your kitchen) redolent of fresh (not burned) garlic. Now, add your tomatoes and stir; you are heating the tomatoes rather than cooking them into a mush (no more than 5 minutes). When the pasta is at the al dente stage drain it and retain about a half-cup of the pasta water to moisten the pasta and sauce (if necessary).
  8. Dump the drained pasta into the saucepan with the tomatoes and add the basil chiffonade. Toss the pasta and sauce, adding the pasta water if you think necessary. You can add olive oil instead, if you prefer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top of the pasta and serve!
  9. This recipe will serve 2 as a main course; double amounts as needed for more.