This is the pasta I served to the crew after we finished filming our pilot show at Yellowbanks, and it’s one of the easiest pasta dishes you can make.
Fresh, in-season tomatoes are vital. In fact, I’ll go as far as saying that if you can’t find the genuine article, don’t make this dish! Heirloom tomatoes are our first choice and while there’s some argument about the definition of ‘heirloom’ there can be no argument about their taste. It’s quite different from the taste of regular packaged supermarket produce and it will inspire even the most jaded grandmother’s palate, recalling what tomatoes used to be when she grew them in her own garden back in the day.
And that, really, is the key to ‘heirloom’: vegetables and fruits grown from seeds that have been passed down through several generations. Unlike hybrid, industrially grown tomatoes, the heirlooms are ripened naturally so they are only available in season. The tomatoes come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors which some stores and, sadly, buyers reject simply because they look like real fruit used to, often quite gnarly. Speaking of shapes, we know of a botanist who was hired to develop a square tomato because that would improve shipping efficiency. I didn’t really believe his story until I went to the store yesterday and saw a hydroponic butter lettuce grown in a square container – to maximize shelf space, I assume.
Well, whatever the shape of an heirloom tomato, celebrate it because this tomato’s intense flavor make this dish a gem.
1 pound spaghetti
3 large heirloom tomatoes
½ basket cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
¼ cup fresh chopped basil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper
Start by putting the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water. While the pasta is cooking, chop the fresh tomatoes. A combination of bigger heirloom tomatoes and cherry tomatoes (also heirloom if available) is fun. Add a little chopped garlic and fresh basil to the tomatoes. Add olive oil, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. Stir in the tomato mixture and serve. If the pasta seems a little dry add more olive oil. In fact, if you have some really good olive oil on hand this would be the time to drizzle a little over the pasta.
Enjoy this most summery of pasta dishes, outdoors, with friends!