I love this dish. It’s not only easy, but it’s adjustable–make it for yourself or family style. It utilizes one of my favorites–tomatoes–and combines it with filling pasta and, salty cheese, and onion’s nearest and dearest relative–garlic.
This used to be one of my (and my college roommate’s) favorite quick-dishes. We always had cheese and pasta and garlic on hand (still do!) and thinking about it, we almost always had fresh tomatoes, too. Of course, we really outdid ourselves with this dish when we went to Henry’s and both bought small cartons of HEIRLOOM cherry tomatoes–I’m pretty sure I had to pinch myself when I saw them sitting there, all multi-colored, practically screaming at me to pick them up and take them home to greedily consume.
Of course, I don’t always make the trip to Henry’s for these colorful little guys, so I usually make this dish with just plain-old cherry-colored cherry tomatoes 🙂 Don’t worry, they work and taste just as good as the heirlooms (except maybe the purple heirlooms. Those are divine!!)
Whenever I make this dish I will forever and always think of my college roommate (miss you Stef!), our not-so-tiny apartment, and the great memories we made in our too-tiny kitchen.
- Angel Hair Pasta–I usually get the whole grain kind (adjust to number of servings you want. Use a whole pound for 4 people)
- Package of cherry tomatoes
- 2 Cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- Parmesan Cheese
- Crushed Red Pepper
- Pecorino Romano
- Flat-Leaf Parsley (because it makes it look pretty!)
- Protein (if you’re someone who likes to have meat with dinner, sausage sliced in would make for a satisfying meal, as would grilled chicken)
- Cook the pasta according to package directions (just remember to liberally salt that water!!)
- While the pasta cooks (and being angel hair, it shouldn’t take very long) heat over medium heat a large skillet with some EVOO (enough to cover just the bottom of the pan. A couple turns around the pan should do) and your smashed garlic cloves
- Once the cloves start to lightly brown, thrown in your tomatoes, whole. Add salt (kosher or sea), freshly ground pepper, and your favorite crushed red pepper (there’s an italian restaurant in Little Italy here in San Diego that has the BEST crushed red pepper–they finely crush it, so it’s nice and spicy without getting the flakes caught in your teeth)
- Toss to coat the tomatoes with all the seasonings and then leave it be. You want the tomatoes to sit and cook in the olive oil until they “pop”……their outside skins will split and supply with it a satisfying popping noise.
- Don’t forget to drain your pasta! [TIP: with a measuring cup, scoop out a cup of the cooked pasta water and reserve it. You can use this water later to un-stick any sticky pasta, or add it to the dish to make a “sauce”)
- Once the tomatoes are popped, the pasta is drained, it’s time to serve. Combine all ingredients in bowl(s) and toss. Sprinkle some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top (and here is where you would add the pretty chopped parsley) and serve. I usually set out a small ramekin with extra cheese to sprinkle on halfway through the meal.
And that’s it. REALLY simple, simply delicious.