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Recipe: Lighten up a summer pasta

  • TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
                                Pasta is a favorite for dinner because it doesn’t generally require a lot of special ingredients or equipment.

    TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

    Pasta is a favorite for dinner because it doesn’t generally require a lot of special ingredients or equipment.

Pasta is a favorite for dinner because it doesn’t generally require a lot of special ingredients or equipment. That said, a dish of noodles covered in red or meat sauce can feel a bit heavy when it’s warm outside. The solution? Toss the pasta instead with a simple sauce made with cherry tomatoes, garlic and Italian herbs.

This recipe only takes about 15 minutes start to finish, is fresh and light, and involves hardly any cleanup.

Cherry tomatoes burst open and get jammy when you cook them, so all you need to add is a little white wine and some grated Parmesan cheese. I also like to add fresh sweet basil and mini mozzarella pearls to evoke the flavors of a caprese salad. A generous sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs goes on top.

CHERRY TOMATO PASTA

  • 1 pound spaghetti, fettuccine or other long pasta
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup torn rustic Italian or ciabatta bread
  • Pinch EACH dried basil, dried oregano and crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 4 cups red and/or yellow cherry tomatoes, some sliced in half and others whole
  • 2 large cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large handful fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup mini mozzarella balls

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water according to package directions until al dente. Set aside 1 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet set over medium. When it shimmers, add bread and pinches of basil, oregano and red pepper. Cook until bread is toasted and golden brown, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in same skillet. Add tomatoes, garlic, thyme and oregano and give it a good stir. Season with salt and pepper; add a pinch (or 2) more red pepper flakes, if you like things spicy. Cook until tomatoes begin to soften and pop, about 5 minutes. Add wine; cook 1 more minute.

Add drained pasta to skillet, along with a splash or 2 of reserved pasta cooking water. Toss gently to combine, then stir in Parmesan cheese and sliced basil. If needed, thin sauce with a little more pasta water.

Remove from heat and add mozzarella balls and bread pieces. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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