The tomato-basil combo saves the day

March 15, 2013 § 1 Comment

The days when I go home with a grumbling stomach have become a routine. I eat whatever’s at home since I don’t have time to prepare anything else. One evening, though, I had the luxury of time and decided to drop by the supermarket for two things: tomatoes and basil.

There’s so much you can do with plump red tomatoes.


You can slice it into discs for a salad or cook it whole or sliced with just about anything requiring some acidity. That night, the tomatoes served as the star of my easy-cook pasta along with fresh basil leaves. Since the preparation for this dish is so fast and simple, I decided to put in writing what I did (but only after eating two servings).

I follow no formulation when I cook. There are no figures. Everything’s measured by estimation. And I actually don’t do a taste test while cooking. Haha. Do whatever’s necessary to adjust according to your  preference. Prepare the following:

1. Tomatoes: I picked the reddest, ripest, and biggest ones from the bin. Rinsed. Cut into wedges that could fit perfectly as a mouthpiece. It’s better if you can blanch them first to remove skin prior to cutting but this is optional.

2. Basil: Rinsed. Leaves separated from the stalk.

3. Garlic: Skinned. Sliced into ~2mm thick discs.

Once the ingredients are ready, heat olive oil in a non-stick pan. It doesn’t have to be extra virgin. Sometimes I use pomace. Throw in the garlic and cook in medium heat until golden brown. Add tomato wedges and cover. While this is being done, boil in a separate casserole water with at least a tablespoon of rock salt (I like the pasta tasting a bit salty by itself). I used San Remo’s fusilli. Cook according to instructions or just wait until the color changes from light yellow to almost creme. Test firmness after about 7 minutes of boiling to keep it al dente.

Back to the sauce pan. Wait until the tomatoes soften. I usually mash it with the spatula to further extract the juices. Add basil leaves. Mix until the leaves get a bit darkened. You’ll begin to smell the basil by this time. Sprinkle with rock salt (two-three pinches) and lots of ground peppercorn.

When the sauce is ready, and the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat in the casserole. I don’t drain the pasta immediately. What I do is transfer the pasta into the sauce pan with a strainer, allowing some of the pasta water to get into the pan. This will leave your sauce slightly creamy. Mix the ingredients. If the pasta is overcooked, it will begin to break while mixing so be careful. In just about 15 minutes of actual cooking, your tomato-basil pasta dish is ready.

To add contrast to the acidity of the pasta, I topped my  dish with spanish sardines and uncooked basil leaves. Drizzling with Tabasco Pepper Sauce gave that kick.

That’s it. Easy. Tasty. And meat-free. 🙂



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