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 Bozeman), 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). Use young cheese like chèvre, fresh mozzarella in brine, or feta.
Other ideas for those ripe and juicy tomatoes: crusty bread salad, a briefly cooked sauce with butter or olive oil, gazpacho, caprese, and, how about a bloody mary mix?
Thanks to Ruth Reichl and her book, My Kitchen Year, for the inspiration (original recipe “Painless Pasta for Three” p. 276).
Fresh Tomatoes & Pasta (No Cook Tomato Sauce)
recipe adapted from Ruth Reichl, My Kitchen Year
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 handful fresh basil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 5 ripe tomatoes (or equivalent cherry tomatoes, about 6:1)
- cheese of choice (mozzarella ball, small tub of chèvre, sheep feta, or a few ounces of Parmesan)
- 1 pound linguine or spaghetti
- flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper
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. Chop the tomatoes, removing the core, then add them to the olive oil.
Tear or dice the ball of mozzarella into bite-size pieces and add to the pasta serving bowl. If using chèvre or feta, crumble large pieces into the 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 with the tomatoes and cheese. "Toss it about like crazy," as Ruth says. Optionally remove the sliced garlic from the olive oil, it depends on how sensitive you are. (It's perfectly fine to eat, but raw garlic, even sliced thinly, is quite potent.) Sprinkle with flaky salt and freshly ground pepper.