When summer arrives, so do tomatoes. And a fresh cherry tomato is absolutely amazing when it is heated through. I am not a raw tomato fanatic, but when they are fresh, I can go for it. But with a little amazing olive oil, some fresh mozzarella and basil to go with cherry tomatoes, you have something special. So why not make this a summer pasta dish? That’s right, there isn’t a good reason not to do this. You can make this dish in no time and it is so good and satisfying that you’ll do it whenever you can get your sandwich clamps (i.e., hands) on some decent cherry tomatoes. Seriously, though, pasta is probably my favorite dish of all time and this particular one is such a winner.
Do I have to use Cherry Tomatoes in the Summer Pasta?
You can certainly use a different tomato in this dish, but we highly recommend using cherry tomatoes and here's why: cherry tomatoes have the perfect taste and flavor for this particular pasta. We also love grape tomatoes in a variety of dishes, but they just don’t work right in this recipe – the texture isn’t right and can’t compare to the traditional cherry tomato. Also, the yellow cherry tomatoes add a cool color contrast for presentation, but the taste never compares to the red ones. There’s my 2 cents on cherry tomatoes.
What type of pasta is best?
If you have seen any of our recipes, you know we prefer homemade pasta. And if you haven't given homemade pasta a try yet, we highly recommend doing it. Making your own pasta is not daunting…try it. It’s worth the effort and is pretty fun to do, as well. You can check out some of our Homemade Pasta Dough recipes HERE.
This Summer Pasta is also very good with store-bought linguine but definitely better with fresh, homemade pasta, in our humble opinion. But honestly, almost any pasta shape would work with these flavors, so feel free to use whatever is in your pantry!
What makes this Summer Pasta so delicious?
So what is the key to this super-simple dish? In my opinion, the olive oil is the difference maker. If you have a great olive oil that you use when you want it to shine, then this is a perfect chance to let it be the star. We never recommend using high quality olive oil to cook with heat, such as what you would use to oil a pan before adding chicken or veggies. Once you heat up the best olive oil, you’ve ruined that special taste, so you never want to use the good stuff to cook with. In this dish, you drizzle the good stuff on at the end – it is essentially the “sauce” – and the better the olive oil, the better the dish.
What is the best olive oil for this dish?
A note on olive oil…it is as complex as wine – taste olive oils and use your favorite. There is no “right” or “wrong” but you definitely want something that will be the star of the show. We prefer Italian or Spanish varieties but that is a very broad statement. As with wine, the types of olives and how the oil is produced will certainly make a difference. Again, experiment and find what you like and use it here at the end. You want an olive oil that is fairly assertive on its own, and when you taste it by itself it should be somewhat peppery or have a bit of a bite. Look for an olive oil made with Arbequina olives for really assertive flavors that work perfectly in this dish.
No sauce?? Really?
Yes, really! Once you try this dish, you will realize (if you haven’t already) that pasta doesn’t have to be drenched in a thick red sauce to be incredibly delicious (but we love a good red sauce too, like our Marinara from Scratch)! You can use your imagination now that you have realized that a good quality olive oil can be a great "sauce" on its own, especially if you have a great homemade pasta dough and fresh veggies and herbs mixed in.
The technique here isn’t that difficult, so if you get the pasta right, you can start thinking of adaptations. Like olives instead of tomatoes. Or some citrus and artichokes. But if you try this, you may just make it a staple in your pasta rotation.
We hope you enjoy this Summer Pasta recipe! If you give it a try, leave us a comment below or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine! Buon Appetito!!
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Summer Pasta (Pasta D'Estate)
- 8 oz fresh fettuccine pasta (or you can use store-bought dried fettuccine, spaghetti or linguine)
- 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella (the cherry tomato-sized ones in water are perfect - cillegine)
- 10 large basil leaves
- 2 tbs crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 tbs grated Parmesan
- 2 tbs best quality extra virgin olive oil (your favorite)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
PREP (OR MISE EN PLACE IF YOU WANT TO BE FRENCH-FANCY)
- Cut the mozzarella and tomatoes in half - cut tomatoes on the equator.
- Roll the basil like a cigar and cut to achieve thin ribbons
- Add the remaining ingredients in separate bowls to easily add to your dish when you are ready to use them.
COOKING THE PASTA
- Preheat large skillet on medium heat.
- Cook the pasta in salted water. If fresh just cook for about 90 seconds. If dried, cook for 1 minute less than the package says for al dente.
- Put olive oil (this doesn't have to be your best olive oil) in the preheated skillet
- Remove pasta from water and put in the skillet to coat with oil. It's OK to have some pasta water (actually you want some) in the pan - about a few tablespoons. Stir frequently.
- Add tomatoes and heat through on medium-low heat. Add crushed red pepper flakes and stir.
- Remove from heat after tomatoes have heated through and add the mozzarella and basil directly to the pan and toss to combine. Immediately transfer to a serving bowl and add your best olive oil and parmesan.
- Add some fresh basil and extra crushed red pepper flakes if desired and serve. You can always add more of your favorite olive oil as well!