Our cherry tomato plants are doing very well this summer. Every other day or so Mark picks a big bowl full that we eat like candy. Today he picked another 40 or so tomatoes and I still had some in the kitchen. With our bumper crop of cherry tomatoes, I figured this was the perfect time to make this recipe. Although it is quite simple to make, and looks kinda plain, it is deceptively scrumptious.
We were very fortunate to spend time overseas as a military family. Not only did we get to immerse ourselves in the people and culture of the country we were in, we also met lots of people from other countries that were stationed with us. In 2001, we were stationed in Misawa, Japan. I joined the Hilltop Coffee Group, a spouse’s social group that met once a month. We made new friends, learned a new skill , ate lots of food and laughed.
One of our members was from Italy and she taught a cooking class. Arianna and her friend demonstrated 3 quick pasta dishes, simple meals for eating on an average weekday. The most interesting thing I learned from the cooking class was the difference between what we as Americans consider Italian food, versus the way real Italian people cook. Arianna explained that the food is made simpler in Italy, but always with fresh ingredients. The recipes that we took home all had vegetables, very little garlic or seasonings (usually just torn fresh basil), and none of the pasta was floating in a red sauce. She also said that dessert usually consisted of fresh fruit.
This new-found information didn’t make me want to run home and throw out the can of Parmesan cheese I had in the fridge, but it did make me want to start using more fresh ingredients. Whenever possible, I do prefer to use fresh basil, real parmesan cheese, etc., there really is a big difference in the taste. Then again, I’m not the kind of person that will make a special trip to the store for one ingredient. So when Mark brought that bowl of tomatoes in the kitchen today and I knew I had all the necessary ingredients here ( just not fresh), I decided to cook it anyway….and it was good. So go out and get some cherry tomatoes and make yourself a nice, quick dinner. Enjoy!
recipe adapted from Pasta Con Pomodori Ciliegino (Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes) by Arianna Perkins and Pandy Reed
1 pound spaghetti ( I prefer the Barilla Piccolini mini Farfalle)
grated parmesan cheese
40-50 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 garlic clove, halved (I use 3 garlic cloves, minced)
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 Tablespoons plain breadcrumbs (I grated a hard french baguette)
4 basil leaves, torn (I used dried basil)
red pepper flakes (I used a big, fat pinch)
1. In a frying pan, warm the olive oil and lightly saute the garlic. Add the cherry tomatoes, salt and red pepper flakes (if using dried basil, add it in now). Cover the frying pan and cook over a medium-high heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, being careful not to crush the tomatoes. If using fresh basil, add it in at the end of the cooking time.
2. Warm the plain breadcrumbs in a little pan until they are lightly toasted. Remove from heat.
3. Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain the water, reserving about 1/2 cup for later use.
4. Add the drained pasta and the toasted breadcrumbs to the cherry tomatoes in the frying pan. Cook gently for a minute or so, stirring to mix the sauce, tomatoes, breadcrumbs and pasta. Add some of the pasta water to the mix if necessary (to keep the pasta from being too dry). Serve immediately with parmesan cheese.