It’s summertime and nothing is more summery for a main dish than something (anything!) that contains tomato and basil. Light and airy angel hair pasta, lots of blistered tomatoes, Italian spices and of course, fresh basil and olive oil. Perfect for a quick and easy fulfilling dish.
Some may say it is redundant to post a dish featuring tomatoes and basil and I’m well aware that I didn’t come up with that combination here! But, in my opinion, you can’t have summer without lots of dishes that feature tomatoes or basil or tomatoes and basil and this quick pasta dish is one of my favorites.
So, I will post it because it is one of my all-time go-to dishes! It qualifies as an Italian comfort food that always hits the spot.
There are so many varieties of tomatoes in the markets these days – pinkish, charmingly irregular-ridged heirloom ones, fat and perfectly round deep crimson ones, little pear-shaped yellow and orange mini- tomatoes and of course, beautiful, bright scarlet cherry tomatoes.
And good news! When I was inside at one of the markets the other day, a local fellow struck up a conversation with Jay, explaining confidently that all of the produce in that market and for about a 100 kilometers in every direction is grown without any chemicals! We had deduced this, by talking to farmers and others in the area, but it was nice to hear it confirmed again.
Most of the produce comes from small local farms and it tastes amazingly fresh and just full of flavor. Organic certification hasn’t really become common here, but most of the farmers can’t afford expensive chemicals anyway, and their historical local growing methods result in excellent fruits and veggies, naturally. So we are truly grateful to be able to partake of this nutritious delicious bounty!
This recipe is one of those that can be thrown together without too much time spent on measuring the ingredients exactly. That’s kind of how I cook, anyway, except for baking, which definitely requires more precise measuring to get a positive outcome. (Ahem, I have tried being lazy while baking and it’s not worth the disappointment of epic fails, as I experienced early on… so I learned to be very exact in baking!)
But when it comes to daily cooking, it’s a wonderful thing to feel free and let the creative juices flow. I heard about a cookbook that came out a couple of years ago, How To Cook Without a Book that is more about teaching techniques than just recipes… so you can adjust basic recipes and have lots of variations without needing tons of cookbooks… very practical and a lot like how I cook. It’s more fun to experiment and substitute while preparing a meal, as long as you get some basics down first…
Let’s Make Some Angel Hair with Blistered Tomatoes and Basil
So for this recipe, I’ll lay out the details – more good news, there aren’t many! You’ll boil your pasta, and while that is happening, you coat your cherry tomatoes in olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, garlic powder and turbinado sugar. The tomatoes are then spread on a baking sheet and baked at high heat in the oven for a few minutes until they blister and burst. So yummy!!
Then you’ll strain the pasta, and set it aside for a minute or two. You’ll then add olive oil, Italian spices, finely chopped garlic and red pepper flakes to the pot. When the garlic has fried a bit in the olive oil, you’ll add in the angel hair, tomatoes and the rest of the spices… making sure to get all of the oil and juices from the tomato pan, along with the tomatoes. The chopped basil gets added right at the last minute. It will wilt rapidly, so when you get that first fragrant whiff of basil, be prepared to remove your pan from the heat and serve immediately. Adjust for salt and be sure to keep some basil aside as a garnish.
I’m not always in the mood for cheese, but if you are, you can always add about a quarter cup of grated Parmesan at the last minute – that’s also delish!
See what I mean? Quick and simple! Nothing like it, for a flavorful main dish that speaks to the spirit of summer.
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Angel Hair With Blistered Tomatoes and Basil
- 4-6 ounces angel hair pasta
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- 2 TBSP olive oil more for drizzling on tomatoes for blistering
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
- salt, to taste
- pinch black pepper
- pinch turbinado sugar
- red pepper flakes, to taste
- ¼ cup fresh basil, sliced into small strips
- additional basil for garnish
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning dry or fresh herbs, like rosemary, thyme and oregano, as are available or per preference
- Wash and dry tomatoes and place in a small bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, black pepper and salt. Mix thoroughly with a large spoon.
- Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and spread out in single layer. Sprinkle with a few pinches of turbinado sugar.
- Bake on high (425°) for 8-10 minutes until blistered. Remove from oven
- While tomatoes are baking, boil pasta in a heavy bottomed pot as per instructions on package. Remove from pot, rinse and drain.
- In the same pot, heat olive oil and lightly brown chopped garlic. Add the drained pasta, salt and red pepper flakes, stirring to incorporate. Add tomatoes, making sure to scrape the oil and delicious juices into the pot along with the tomatoes. Stir in italian spices/herbs.Add in fresh basil and stir. When basil becomes slightly wilted and fragrant, immediately remove from heat and plate. Garnish with fresh basil and serve.