So, I bought two quarts of tomatoes today. And I already had a pint or so at home. Clearly, I have a tomato problem. Or maybe problem is the wrong word - perhaps, one should say, I have a tomato opportunity. Several tomato opportunities.
I exercised one such opportunity yesterday afternoon, using a prodigious number of said tomatoes, along with a bit of garlic, a fistful of basil and some fresh fettuccine. It's one of my most basic standbys, but it's also one of the tastiest. A raw tomato sauce is kind to in-season vegetables - it doesn't cook away their sweetness or mask their acidity; instead, it lets every flavor in each tomato sing its own little ditty.
It's also ridiculously easy and incredibly satisfying. In fact, it's so good that I'm craving it again, right now, as I write this. Excuse me a moment.
Summer Tomato Pasta
1 lb. fresh pasta, such as fettuccine, or 1/2 lb. dry pasta, such as spaghetti
3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup basil leaves, finely sliced into a chiffonade
1/4 cup olive oil
Scant teaspoon sherry vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs. mascarpone cheese (optional)
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. In the meantime, combine the tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil and sherry vinegar in a large bowl. Add a generous pinch of salt and some black pepper, and toss the whole lot together. Let it hang out while the pasta finishes.
Add the hot pasta to the bowl, and toss to distribute the tomatoes evenly throughout the pasta. Taste and adjust seasonings (you will probably want more salt and pepper). Divide between two bowls or plates, and top each with a tablespoon of the mascarpone. Serve immediately.