Balsamic tomato-basil pasta (4-6 servings)

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This recipe marks the first new dish I've made in our new apartment in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It was a good one to start with, too. I was looking for a way to use the gorgeous local tomatoes I found at Whole Foods, so I dug up a Recipezaar (now Food.com) recipe I had bookmarked several months ago. (It's great when I actually go back to recipes I mentally labeled as "try this out later." I don't usually remember to do that!) This is an easy one for a hot summer day (and we've got plenty of those in NC), and it came together pretty quickly, despite the obnoxious stove here. The sauce was light and fresh, with a lovely sweetness and tang from the balsamic vinegar.

You will need:

  • 1 lb of dried pasta [see my note below]
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 4-6 fresh tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil [I ended up with a little less than 1/2 cup of packed leaves]
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Steps:

  1. Start heating up a stockpot of water for the pasta. Meanwhile, core the tomatoes and chop them into big chunks. Mince the garlic cloves.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, saute the garlic in oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until just golden.
  4. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, salt, pepper, and oregano; cover and simmer 7-10 minutes, or until the tomatoes fall apart.
  5. Julienne the basil leaves. Remove the saucepan from heat, and add the basil and parmesan to the tomato sauce, stirring gently.
  6. Pour the tomato sauce over the drained pasta and toss to coat. Serve with extra parmesan, if desired.

I really didn't make any changes to this recipe, besides re-ordering some of the ingredients and clarifying some of the directions. I just wish I had used a different shape of pasta. The penne got too slippery in the sauce, and it was difficult to pick up a chunk of tomato along with the pasta. I think something like medium shells or cavatappi would work a little better. I also wish I had served this with crusty bread so I could mop up the sweet, garlicky broth when I was done! I would definitely recommend you try this one before tomato season is over.