Even when you cook for a living as I do, there are those evenings where everyone is hungry and there’s no menu plan at all. And you cannot raise a family on nuts, seeds, and dried fruit no matter how good they are for you!
“Go To” Ease
So, you need some easy “go to” recipes, and this luscious pasta dish is one of my favorites. I love it for its bright flavor and ease, but even more for the delight it engenders when I’m making, for it is a favorite with my family. As it will be for yours.
Red is Best
Get an abundance of any vine ripened tomato – bright red ones are the prettiest, but with the heirloom variations on offer, you can also use a variety of colors. Make sure they aren’t TOO ripe, so they hold their shape when you cut them. Put them in your pasta bowl and coer them with olive oil, then crumble in an ample amount of fresh goat cheese. Add some – not too much – sea salt and a good grinding of pepper if you like, and/or red pepper flakes. Keep basil leaves to the side for now.
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Remember the Salt
I like just about any pasta in this recipe but either fusilli or penne are my favorites because they “grab” the flavors, so get those cooking. And remember to salt the pasta water! It should be salted enough that you can taste the salt, which translates to about 2 level tablespoons of coarse sea salt to 6 quarts (6 liters) water. Cook the pasta JUST until it is al dente, which means you can no longer taste the raw wheat* flavor but the pasta has some texture, then remove ½ cup (125ml) of pasta cooking water from the pot before you drain the pasta. Turn the hot pasta into the bowl and toss, toss, toss. Then add a few tablespoons of pasta cooking water if necessary to make the dish moist (but not wet). And toss some more. Mince the basil at the last minute, add it to the bowl and toss, toss, toss again.
Serve and observe. This is the simplest dish, and perhaps one of the quickest you’ll ever make, but from the satisfaction it provokes you might have spent hours at the stove! You can serve this alone, as a healthy, lively main course, or follow it up with grilled meat or fish and a vegetable. And if there are leftovers, they are simply delicious the next day, or for a summer picnic.
Over and Over
This dish is fresh, it’s bright, it’s delicious. You’ll return to it over and over again.
- There are so many non-wheat pastas available now, that you can use the pasta of your choice. Do remember when cooking any pasta that less is more. Flabby, soft pasta loses its allure, so al dente is the rule!