Tomato sauce isn’t really our thing. We like light, fresh pasta with maybe a hint of tomato, or better yet, pesto. But, boyfriends tend to like the opposite, i.e., a bowl of noodles swimming/drowning in tomato sauce. Needless to say, whenever we make some sort of pasta dinner, there’s no real obvious solution.
Until we found this recipe. It’s full of tomatoes, lots and lots of tomatoes, but they just coat the pasta in a silky sauce-like glaze. Since it’s easy to make (no food mill required), it’s a great dish to make for a summer lunch or dinner.
We like to use Sun Gold tomatoes—a sweet, slightly tannic variety of cherry tomato—to make this dish. But any good cherry or grape tomatoes, or a chopped large tomato, will work too. Just be sure to cook the tomatoes down until they’ve released all of their juices.
This dish is easily made gluten-free and dairy-free by using gluten-free pasta and omitting the pecorino. We prefer the 50% indulgent option: gluten-free pasta with the cheese.
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 oz Sun Gold or cherry tomatoes (1/2 cut in half, ½ left hold)
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Flake salt
- 6 oz gluten-free capellini, spaghetti or bucatini (I like this brand)
- ¾ cup finely grated pecorino
- 8 medium fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add tomatoes, garlic and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, covered, swirling the pan often until the tomatoes blister and burst, usually about 10-12 minutes.
While you’re cooking the tomatoes, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a 5-quart pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally (especially if using gluten-free pasta). Cook the pasta until it’s just tender since it will continue cooking with the tomatoes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
Transfer pasta to the skillet with tomatoes; set over high heat. Add ½ cup of the reserved pasta water. Cook, stirring and tossing often until sauce thickens and begins to coat the pasta (about 1 minute). Stir in the remaining olive oil, cheese, and half of the basil. Add more pasta water if the sauce seems dry. Add remaining basil and season with salt and pepper.
Photography: Shawn Sachs
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