Monday, September 2, 2013

Ina's Capellini with Tomatoes and Basil

At the beginning of September some of your gardens are still donning several lovely cherry tomatoes. If your gardens aren't wearing these sweet little polka dots, the grocery stores certainly are! For those of you who're done turning them into gazpacho or throwing them over your salads, I have a recipe for you that will give the 'matoes new life while helping you soak up these last weeks of Summer with gusto.

If it's possible for a recipe to be light and indulgent at the same time, Ina Garten's Capellini with Tomatoes and Basil has it nailed. It's one of my all-time favorite main dishes for its freshness, deep flavor, ease of preparation, and capacity to satisfy. Salty, sweet, savory, mildy tart, and the juicy pops as you bite into each ready-to-burst tomato... mlup, mlup, mlup. I have all the ingredients on hand, so I think I'm going to be making this tonight for the fifth time this Summer.

Here are some tips for helping this dish to reach its full potential.
  • Watch the demo video. It really helps to watch her make it. Notice the color of the garlic, how it doesn't darken very much, and see how generous she is with her herbs. When I make mine, I go by the video more than the written recipe itself.
  • Have your garlic peeled and herbs washed and dried with stems removed before boiling the water. Everything else you should just have on your countertop and ready to prep during the cooking process. It goes quickly, so you don't want to be digging in the back of your pantry for your red pepper flakes while your working ingredients overcook.
  • Take note that the recipe calls for 3/4 lb of pasta, not the full box. If you want to use the full box adjust everything accordingly... except for maybe the cherry tomatoes; I think there should be enough of those.
  • Use quality ingredients. As I've said before, when you have only a handful of ingredients in a recipe it becomes increasingly important that each ingredient pulls its weight, so go for the good stuff. Do NOT use the cheap, pre-grated cheese. Mince your own garlic. Don't use the stuff in the jar. Use fresh herbs. Substituting dry ones will not yield the same results. You get the idea.
  • Capellini cooks quickly. Watch it closely so that it doesn't begin to break down. Setting a timer for this kind of pasta is wise.
  • Serve with roasted asparagus!

Capellini With Tomatoes and Basil

Yields 6 servings

Kosher salt
1/2 cup good olive oil, plus extra for the pot
2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
4 pints small cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes (cherry are best)
18 large basil leaves, julienned
2 tablespoons chopped fresh curly parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 pound dried capellini or angel hair pasta
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Extra chopped basil and grated Parmesan, for serving

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt and a splash of oil to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat the 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan. Add the garlic to the oil and cook over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, thyme, 2 teaspoons salt, the pepper, and red pepper flakes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to soften but don't break up.

While the tomatoes are cooking, add the capellini to the pot of boiling water and cook for 2 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water.

Place the pasta in a large serving bowl, add the tomatoes and Parmesan and toss well. Add some of the pasta water if the pasta seems too dry. Serve large bowls of pasta with extra basil sprinkled on top and a big bowl of extra Parmesan on the side.

For my pizza that was inspired by this recipe click: Janna & Ina's Margherita Pizza

Happy lip-licking!

1 comment:

  1. I've got to make this! The video was really helpful too.