It’s been raining, gray, and cold here for the last couple of days. But I know it must be warm and sunny somewhere. I must think that winter is not yet upon us, and someone somewhere is enjoying some warmth that does not come from the furnace. Don't get me wrong, I love fall and cold weather and all that. I really do. It's just that I don't feel I quite got enough time with my garden this year.
Being from California, I’m used to the warm weather lasting through fall and harvesting tomatoes well into October. Our fall was cut short here in the Midwest this year by a premature freeze a couple of weeks ago, and that pretty much did in the tomato crop. I picked what I could, and the last of those beautiful Brandywines that ripened indoors went into creating a moment of summertime deliciousness here. I was terribly smart to also pick all my basil before the freeze, and here is the last of that as well. This is a pasta that certainly can be made any time of the year, but it really is so beautiful in its simplicity in the summer and early fall when tomatoes and basil are at their peak (most places).
Because there are so few ingredients, they really should be the best you can find…really juicy, flavorful tomatoes, fragrant basil and the real deal Parmesano Reggiano. I have been known to also dice up some fresh (packed in water) mozzarella cheese which is really unnecessary , but awfully good.
This is all you need….
Get your pasta boiling (any strand pasta works well here, but choose your favorite) in some well-salted water, and just before it's ready to drain, scoop out a cup or so of the pasta water and set it aside. While your pasta cooks, mix together 2 or 3 cups of diced fresh tomatoes, a good handful of chopped or torn fresh basil, a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil, a half cup of grated parmesan cheese and/or fresh mozzarella chunks and some salt and pepper. Drain your pasta and add it to the tomato mixture in the bowl along with enough of the reserved pasta water to create a "sauce". Mix well and turn into a serving bowl. Top with more fresh basil and parmesan and grab a fork. Like this year's garden, this pasta won't last long....
My Favorite Summer Pasta
Fresh, ripe tomatoes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Lots of chopped fresh parsley and basil
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
While the pasta is cooking, scoop out a cup or so of hot, salty, pasta water. Set aside.
Chop enough tomatoes (different colors are nice) to make about 2 cups or so (3 cups if using a whole pound of pasta). Place in a large bowl. Add the herbs, about ½ cup parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well.
Drain the pasta and add it to the tomato mixture. Mix the pasta with the “sauce” and then turn out into a nice serving bowl. This last step is important to get the sauce ingredients on top of the pasta when serving so the juices will coat the pasta. Top with more herbs and parmesan before serving.