Pasta with Wrinkled Cherry Tomatoes
Because sometimes you get super excited about tomato season, and you purchase three large local containers of cherry tomatoes, and then some of them inevitably linger a bit longer than you wanted them to and get all wrinkly and forlorn on the countertop....anyone else ever find themselves in that position? Just me?
Even if you haven't over-estimated your in-season tomato consumption, this recipe is great for wrinkly (or pristine) out-of-season tomatoes too. The idea is to saute the halved tomatoes over high heat, so they collapse and burst a bit, concentrating the flavors until the tomatoes are sweet and jammy and the texture doesn't matter one bit. It's a great easy & fast sauce when you want to minimize your time over a hot stove (no hour-long tomato sauce simmer here), whether it's a sweltering summer day or you're just in need of something quick any other time of the year.
This is pretty damn good with just tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and any kind of pasta, but other excellent additions include Parmesan or Pecorino, or some fresh mozzarella or ricotta or burrata if you feel like getting crazy. I kept mine vegetarian and used toasted panko breadcrumbs for a bit of crunch, but pancetta or bacon bits would play nicely here too. Then I tossed in fresh local basil, but other fresh herbs like mint or parsley, or thinly sliced scallions would be welcome as well. Feel free to riff and enjoy!
The Rough Recipe
This is super easy to scale up or down depending on how many people you have and how many tomatoes you've got, but feeds about 4 as written. It really only takes about 15 minutes, and can be vegan without adding meat or cheese, and gluten-free with GF pasta.
Here's what you'll need:
- A large stockpot for cooking pasta
- 1 pound of pasta of your choice (I used tortellini)
- A large skillet for sauteing the tomatoes
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- A few garlic cloves, smashed and diced
- 3 or 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Optional additions: bacon or pancetta, cheese of your choice, fresh herbs, other veggies if you want to add them like fresh corn or zucchini coins
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook your pasta according to instructions. When draining, reserve a bit of the starchy pasta water to loosen the sauce, if desired.
While your pasta is cooking, coat the bottom of your skillet with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. If you're using pancetta or bacon, cook it now and add the garlic once it starts to brown. Once the oil heats up a bit, add the garlic and let soften for a minute or two, then add your cherry tomatoes. Let the tomatoes cook for 5-7 minutes, until they collapse and shrivel a bit, releasing lots of juice.
Add the drained pasta to the tomatoes, stir, and add a few spoonfuls of pasta water, if desired. If your skillet doesn't look big enough to fit the pasta, don't worry about it; just put the pasta in a large serving bowl and pour the tomato mixture on top. Salt and pepper to taste and you could totally just eat it like this, but I do recommend Parmesan, toasted breadcrumbs and fresh basil, if you've got it. Enjoy!