Pasta Pomodoro

Fellow Texans, when you are suffering in the midst of week of triple digit temperatures take comfort in the fact that we can plant tomatoes in February.  And when you want a nice fresh pasta dish that won't require you to sweat over a hot stove like an Italian grandmother, try this recipe:

  • 3 large ripe red tomatoes, roughly chopped--since the beauty of this recipe is it's ease of preparation I don't peel or seed them.  Don't use canned, this is a summer recipe so you really need nice ripe tomatoes.
  • Arugula--as much or as little as you like, maybe none...that's up to you.  I used it because I think my arugula's days are numbered with the heat wave.  Inevitably I will forget to water it.
  • Basil--as much as you like, keep the leaves whole
  • Garlic--3 large cloves sliced thinly
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 oz. penne pasta
  • Parmesan cheese--grate ~1/2 cup + more for sprinkling
  • Toasted bread crumbs--see this post for directions on toasting your own

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook penne until just shy of al dente.  Drain pasta, reserving ~1 cup cooking water.  Heat 2-3 TBS olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add chopped tomatoes, garlic, large pinch of kosher salt and several grinds of pepper.  Cook until the tomatoes soften slightly and release their juices.  I add the garlic with the tomatoes because it prevents the thinly sliced garlic from burning.  Add the basil leaves and arugula and cook til just wilted. Add the pasta, reserved cooking water and 1/2 cup grated parmesan.  Add just enough cooking water to make enough sauce to coat the pasta, cooking until the pasta is the desired doneness and the sauce thickens slightly.

To serve, sprinkle with reserved parmesan, bread crumbs and garnish with some uncooked tomatoes.  A perfect pasta dish for a hot night.