Tuesday, July 5, 2011

flavors of summer

Move over mayo! Sweet grape tomatoes & fragrant basil embody all that is summertime. Try this simple pasta salad for your next cook out or family meal:

Here's what you will need:

1- 1lb box of your favorite pasta shape [I fancy rigatoni for this dish] 
1 pint of Grape Tomatoes
1 bunch of Basil, leaves only, chopped or hand torn
5 cloves of Garlic, peeled and sliced [I love garlic, but if you are concerned about your social life, feel free to reduce the amount]
Extra virgin olive oil [2.5 Tbsp for the tomatoes, 2 Tbsp for the dressing]
3.5 Tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Cracked Black Pepper, to taste

Now what?
  • Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Get a large pot of water on the stove, unsalted, and bring it to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, add about 2 Tbsp of salt [this will flavor your pasta while it is cooking] and a little oil [to prevent the pasta from sticking together once you drain it].
  • In the meantime, slice the tomatoes in half, lengthwise, and throw them on a non-stick sheet tray or cookie sheet. Season them liberally with salt & pepper, and then coat them with 2.5 Tbsp of olive oil. *do not line the baking sheet with aluminum foil. the acid from the tomatoes will leach the aluminum into your food and you do not want that in your body, or in your salad! Place the tomatoes in the oven and roast them until the skin is blistered and the edges of the tomato are deeply caramelized [about 6-10 minutes, depending on your oven].
  • Dump your pasta into the salted, boiling water and stir.  Cook the pasta just 1 minute short of the suggested cooking time on the box. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl.
  • While the pasta is cooking, get your sliced garlic and remaining olive oil in a small saute pan and heat it through on low heat; this will infuse the oil with delicious garlic flavor as well as gently cook the garlic & denature its harsh, spicy qualities.  Once the garlic is slightly sizzling turn off the heat and simply let it steep.
  • Using a plastic spatula or wooden spoon, guide the tomatoes off of the sheet tray into the bowl with your pasta, be sure to include any yummy juices from the tomatoes as well. Add the garlic & the garlic oil, white balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper, and gently toss until the ingredients are evenly distributed and the pasta is coated.
  • Taste it! Is it salted enough?  Do you get a nice little kick from the fresh cracked pepper? If not, add a little more.  If the flavors are not popping enough, sprinkle in a touch more vinegar. This is good served at room temperature, or you can make it earlier in the day and hold it in the fridge until game time. 
*Barilla Plus is an excellent whole grain pasta substitution.
** A pound of baby spinach or arugula make great additions to this salad.  Empty the green into the bottom of the bowl, season them very lightly with salt, and then pour the hot tomatoes, right out of the oven and the garlic & oil on top of them. The tomatoes will gently wilt the spinach or arugula, and then follow the rest of the recipe.

To be fair, I cannot take credit for creating this recipe.  I learned it from my mom :o)

1 comment:

  1. Ok ,the arugula , spinach part is mine. But the roasted grape tomatoes part is Miriam's. Actually , I probably put whole grape tomatoes in it. I witnessed Miriam making this pasta for one of her friend's BBQ, A COUPLE OF SUMMERS AGO, the roasted tomatoes works better than the raw tomatoes, the flavor of tomatoes is blended more with the pasta and is fabulous!!!!!!!. Nit saying it because Miriam is my daughter