Jul 3, 2014

The (Easiest) Fresh Tomato Pasta

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Summer brings irresistibly plump tomatoes to farmers' markets, so perfectly ripe (and warm from the sun) that you can't wait to get home and eat them, as is, or use them in your favorite tomato dish. You have plans for those tomatoes. Oh, yes. And then you get home, put them in your fruit bowl (never in your fridge!)...and they just sit there. It's too hot to think about an involved pasta dish, and anyway, tomatoes from the farmer's market -- well, if you haven't tried them (especially the heirloom varietals), they're different from the supermarket kind, to put it mildly (take one bite, and you think: THIS is what a tomato is supposed to taste like!), and it would be a shame to cook them over heat.

Well, fresh tomato pasta is one answer. And the key to a better fresh tomato sauce is the best tomatoes you can find. Because the simpler a recipe is (meaning fewer ingredients and cooking involved -- which is always welcome on hot summer days), the more important it is to use quality ingredients.

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It comes together quickly, and the better your tomatoes are, the better this dish will taste. I added some anchovies (please do omit if your taste buds find delicious salty flavors offensive), and some good extra virgin olive oil to help the sauce come together. I made this on a whim today (which is the beauty of this easy dish), and didn't have any fresh herbs on hand, but a bit of basil will always pair nicely with tomatoes.

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Fresh Tomato Sauce with Angel Hair Pasta 
Adapted from Gourmet, July 2006 | 6 servings

3 lb tomatoes
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 fillets anchovy (optional)
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
sugar (I used agave syrup) to taste (depending on how sweet your tomatoes are)
1 lb capellini (angel hair)
1/2 cup chopped basil

extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Roughly chop about 2/3 of the tomatoes. Halve the remaining tomatoes and rub cut sides onto the large holes of a box grater, discarding the skins. Set aside tomatoes in a large bowl.

Mince garlic clove, then sprinkle salt over garlic and smear with a knife to form a garlic paste. Do the same with the anchovies (if using). Mix this paste into the tomatoes.

Add sugar (if using), black pepper, and lemon juice. Let sit for at least 10 minutes for flavors to meld.

In the meantime, prepare pasta according to package directions. Check on your tomato mixture -- depending on the type of tomato you use, your mixture might have developed too much liquid. If so, pour out any extra tomato juice (you'll have to use your discretion -- but save the liquid in case you need more liquid once you've added the pasta into the sauce).

Drain the cooked pasta and add into the tomato mixture, tossing to combine. Add basil, olive oil and grated cheese, as desired.

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