It’s tomato season here in Bozeman and time for some ideas! If you haven’t yet made a no-cook tomato sauce, here are some guidelines. Always important, but especially so with simple dishes, seek out the best ingredients: ripe, heirloom tomatoes, great pasta (Rustichella d’Abruzzo is my favorite, at Joe’s Parkway in Boze), a fresh and flavorful olive oil (my current California favorites are Lucero and California Olive Ranch), and a flaky salt (Maldon or a fleur de sel). As far as cheese goes, your best choice for young cheese like chèvre, mozzarella, and even feta, is a local product – my favorites here come from Amaltheia. We are challenged in the mozzarella department, but go with one in brine, rather than shrink wrapped plastic.
Thanks to Ruth Reichl and her book, My Kitchen Year, for the inspiration (original recipe “Painless Pasta for Three” p. 276).
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- a handful of fresh basil
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 5 ripe tomatoes (or equivalent cherry tomatoes, about 6:1)
- cheese of choice (either 1 mozzarella ball, a small tub of chèvre, sheep feta, or a few ounces of Parmesan)
- 1 lb. linguine or spaghetti
- One hour before you want to eat, tear up the basil and put it in the olive oil. Add the sliced garlic and let the flavors infuse the oil, the more time, the better.
- Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze gently to remove the seeds (discard). Remove the "core" and chop the tomatoes then add them to the olive oil.
- Dice the ball of mozzarella into bite-size pieces and put in the pasta serving bowl. (If using chèvre or feta, crumble large pieces into bowl. For parmesan, grate into bowl.)
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water. When it is al dente, drain then transfer the pasta to the serving bowl from the previous step. "Toss it about like crazy," as Ruth says.
- Optionally remove the sliced garlic from the olive oil - depends on how sensitive you are. (It's perfectly fine to eat, but raw garlic, even sliced thinly, is quite potent.) Pour the tomato and olive oil mixture over the pasta and toss again. Sprinkle with flaky salt and freshly ground pepper.