Late summer pasta: fresh tomatoes and ricotta salata

I spend all week gathering what always feel like perfect ideas for my next blog post. Then Thursday rolls around and I stare at the keyboard feeling that nothing is quite right and more often than not I crash right through the self imposed Friday morning deadline. I don't know how real writers do it, really, I am garnering more respect for them every day. But I realized something this week. I am not yet a real writer, and though I would like to become one, sometimes I am not even sure that I am ready for the serious bloggers realm. But what I am, a passionate, somewhat skilled cook and one who's greatest joy is sharing knowledge around a stove, is what inspires me every day to inch just a little closer to my next goal.

So I am sharing what inspires me now, in the hope that it will keep me moving along.

And one more thing, I didn't take a picture of the finished dish, the picture I am including is of me cooking it, wearing a tomato red dress.

Pasta al pomodoro fresco e ricotta salata Pasta with fresh tomatoes and ricotta salata

for 6 people: 1 pound medium size tomatoesCooking in red 1 to 2 cloves garlic 1 handful basil 1 generous dusting dried oregano salt to taste 1 pound pasta of your choice olive oil pepper to taste 1/2 cup shredded ricotta salata

Dice the tomatoes quite small and place them in a colander over a bowl.

Smash the garlic into a paste with a pinch of salt using the side of your knife’s blade and add it to the tomatoes.

Pick and stack the basil leaves, roll them and cut them into very thin ribbons. Drop them over the tomatoes.

Add the dried oregano and a very generous amount of salt, 4 to 5 good sized pinches. Mix everything quite well and let drain to eliminate the water. The liquid that accumulates in the bowl should be periodically eliminated to the diced tomatoes do not sit in it.

This step can be done well in advance, even the day before.

While the pasta is cooking al dente in a generous pot of salted water, give the tomatoes a final drain by pressing them into the colander then transfer them to a serving bowl. Adjust salt and pepper and cover with olive oil.

Drain the pasta, reserving a cupful of cooking water, and drop it into the sauce when still very hot. Mix well, dust with the cheese and mix again. If the dish appears a little dry, add a bit of cooking water and some olive oil.

Serve right away.

NOTES:

  • Use sweet, fleshy tomatoes, preferably with thin skin. I find that dry farmed Early Girls work best, but have made it with other kinds to good success, including, in a pinch, good hothouse cluster tomatoes.
  • I enjoy this sauce with any kind of pasta, though I am partial to a good egg fettuccine.
  • The garlic can be minced and mixed into the sauce or just smashed and left whole to lend its fragrance to the sauce, then removed before serving, it all depends on one's taste for it.
  • Make some extra sauce without adding the oil. It will keep in the refrigerator for 5 to 6 days. You can serve it over toasted bread, along side some grilled chicken or even quickly sautè it in a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil for a really great tomato sauce.
  • For a special occasion, use handmade pasta, like the spaghetti I shared earlier this month.