If you’re a bit further south than we are, I’m sure you’ll be overrun with tomatoes and zucchini soon if not already. We’re still greeted by occasional sixty degree days and even cooler nights, so while my tomatoes were scavenged at the farmer’s market, my little diva of a basil plant happily provided.
It’s a different sort of basil than I’m used to, and it’s called “African Blue Basil”, which is a little bit… spicy. It’s not habanero spicy, but it has just a hint of zip, (like arugula) and pairs nicely with the super sweet cherry tomatoes. An added bonus is the gorgeous purple flowers that grow off the top of the tall yet sturdy plant. It’s working for me.
The canvas of the day, is just a simple (Monday) spaghetti, pan fried with garlic, olive oil, pecorino, a small egg and a few breadcrumbs to bump it up and hold the ingredients together. It’s very easy and delicious and if you have any simply dressed pasta (salt and olive oil, maybe a pat of butter or a very thin layer of sauce – whatever your family does for a simple pasta is fine) from last night in your refrigerator, this is a great way to use it up. Any cut of pasta will do and the quantities are very malleable. While I am required to write specific quantities, I suggest you take the creative culinary liberty on this dish. Please go ahead and add a bit of this and that, or omit this and that, to suit your tastes and what you have on hand. It’s one of those recipes to make your own.
I happened to add some nori and chili flakes and a handful of smoked mozzarella, because..why not? I had it and figured it would be good and you know, it really was. Those extra ingredients added a bit of complexity of flavor and bumped up the nutritional value as well, but aren’t necessary for the dish to be delicious. If you prefer to omit them, feel free, it’s your house and your pasta. I’ll never know.
Make it your own and enjoy.
Simple Garden Tomato and Basil Pasta
- 1 pound dried pasta, prepared to al dente
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 large or 5 small cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
- 2 cups, halved, cherry tomatoes
- 1/3 cup pecorino romano, + 2 tablespoons more for serving
- 3 tablespoons seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
- 1 small egg, lightly beaten
- 1 large handful fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving (I used “African Blue Basil” from my garden)
- a pinch of nori flakes (optional, for added nutrition and depth of flavor)
- sea salt and additional red pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup diced fresh smoked mozzarella or feta (optional) if desired.
- Rinse your fully prepared pasta lightly under a drizzle of cold water in a colander and set aside over a bowl to drain. Note: this rinses extra starch allowing it to not stick together in the pan.
- Meanwhile, heat a very large nonstick skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add olive oil, garlic, chili flakes and cherry tomatoes and toss until fragrant (do not burn the garlic, please. Brown garlic is not tasty).
- Add pasta and egg and toss for one minute, or until egg is almost fully cooked. Add pecorino and breadcrumbs and toss for ten to fifteen seconds more, or until egg and other ingredients are fully incorporated with pasta and evenly coating the pasta and tomatoes.
- Place into a large family style pasta or salad bowl and tear a large handful of basil over the top. Add a pinch (that’s about 1-2 teaspoons) of nori flakes if you desire and have them on hand. Toss while adding salt and pepper to taste. Add additional basil and pecorino over the top if desired.
- Serve warm with diced smoked fresh mozzarella or feta if desired (or alternately serve cold with a drizzle of high quality extra virgin olive oil or a side of balsamic vinaigrette as a pasta salad).