Summer is in its home stretch (sob!) which means that sooner rather than later, the days will be shorter, the weather cooler, and our extensive sundress collections (just me?) will be packed away. I've heard that in the U.S, Dunkin' Donuts is already advertising pumpkin flavored coffee drinks and muffins, and that supermarkets have already started to sell Halloween candy and (gulp) decorations. In the meantime, though, I prefer to focus on the fact that there are still a few weeks of the season to enjoy, not to mention this super summer-y Spaghetti with Cherry Tomato Sauce, a fast and delicious dish that will leave you more time to lay on the beach before September hits.
This dish is kind of like that girl we all knew in high school, the one who wore no make up at all but was a stunner nonetheless. This a no frills recipe -- there is no cream, no guanciale or pancetta, no bechamel, no ravioli or stuffed pasta in sight. Instead, we have just the basics: olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, basil, and spaghetti, perhaps the simplest cut of pasta. The star of the dish, not surprisingly, are the peak-of-the-season cherry tomatoes, cooked in lots of silky olive oil until they burst and cook down to become their own quick sauce. The rest of the dish is composed of a few touches to complement the tomatoes: a clove or two of sharp spicy garlic, a pinch of sugar to heighten the sweetness of the tomatoes, a generous dose of fresh sunny basil (the flavor soulmate of tomatoes) and a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan to add a little punch. Bottom line: this is exactly what you want to dig into for dinner on one of these remaining summer nights, and wait, there's more -- this is so easy that even those "I don't like to cook!" people could make it. Promise!
A couple of notes: If you can get your hands on them, yellow and orange cherry tomatoes would be really pretty here mixed with the red. I am not a big fan of garlic, so I kept the cloves whole and then removed them at the end of the cooking process, but feel free to chop it fine and leave it in the sauce for more garlic flavor. I used12 ounces the second time I made this dish as I liked having more sauce on the pasta, but feel free to up the pasta quantity to 1 lb -- the amount in the original recipe -- if you want. Finally, you can use any cut of pasta you like, but I think a longer cut -- like spaghetti, fettuccine, or perciatelli -- is particularly nice with the sauce.
Still have cherry tomatoes to use up after this pasta? Check out this Cherry Tomato Crostata. Want to expand your Summer pasta repertoire? You might like this Fettuccine with Brie, Tomato, and Basil; this Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta; or this Rigatoni with Eggplant.
SPAGHETTI WITH SUPER QUICK CHERRY TOMATO SAUCE
12 ounces spaghetti
1/3 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 pinch sugar
Salt and pepper
3 pints (6 cups) cherry tomatoes, larger ones cut in half
1 cup basil, chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente (follow package instructions). Drain and place in a large bowl. While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic cloves, tomatoes, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes begin to burst and release their juices to form a sauce (feel free to squash the cherry tomatoes a bit to help the process, it's a good stress reliever) about 12-15 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves from the sauce and discard. Toss the spaghetti with the tomato sauce and basil. Serve topped with lots of Parmesan. Serves 4-6.
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine, September 2015.