Tuesday, May 03, 2005


We had not been to the farmers' market in a month, which means we hadn't eaten tomatoes in a month, because I have apparently become too much of a snob to eat grocery-store tomatoes. Ah, California. I'd had this recipe for a long time, but only remembered making it once before. It seemed light and simple, a good way to enjoy fresh tomatoes. Nothing too out-of-the-ordinary, just the usual pasta suspects--olive oil, garlic, basil--with only the red wine vinegar, the pine nuts, and the coldness setting it apart from other recipes in my collection. And...that just about sums it up. An easy, summery recipe, nothing to jump up and down about, but certainly satisfying. My one comment is that making it takes a bit longer than I expected, not because there's a lot of effort involved, but because you have to wait for the pasta to cool (I guess you could run it under cold water, but pasta cookbooks don't usually recommend that because it washes off all the nice starch that holds a sauce together) and then let it marinate. Guess what? As usual, Little Miss Hungry and Impatient didn't plan ahead and start early, and The Simpsons was about to start, so I didn't really let the pasta marinate. I barely let it get down to room temperature before I ate it. It tasted great, but I did discern a much more complex melding of flavors when I ate the cold leftovers today. My advice: let it marinate if you have the time (I wouldn't chill it, but that's just me--cold food fresh out of the fridge generally gives me the willies), because it will taste more interesting, but if you don't, don't stress too much. I can't wait to make this on a really hot summer day when I can't bear the thought of leaning over a hot stove (yeah, you still have to boil pasta, but that requires minimal supervision) and have all afternoon to laze around and let the tastes blend. I'd like to give arugula a try, too.

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1 pound spaghetti
3 medium ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and finely diced
1 cup finely shredded fresh basil
1 cup chopped fresh arugula or parsley
1/4 cup pine nuts

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for cooking the pasta.

2. Heat the pine nuts in a small saucepan over medium heat, shaking them occasionally, until they're browned.

3. Combine the vinegar, garlic, salt, a generous amount of pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl and whisk them together. (Or, better yet, shake them together in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid--I keep an empty Grey Poupon jar for such purposes.)

4. When the water boils, drop in the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain it well and place it in a large serving bowl. (I'd recommend using the biggest bowl you can find, and if the pasta fills it so much you don't have any room to mix it around, try dividing it between two bowls or you'll be flinging oil and garlic around your kitchen every time you try to toss the noodles with the dressing. As I did.) Pour on HALF of the dressing and toss the pasta thoroughly to coat the strands. Let it cool to room temperature, tossing the noodles occasionally.

5. When the pasta has cooled, mix in the tomatoes, basil, parsley, pine nuts, and remaining dressing. Let it marinate at least one hour or up to 8 hours before serving (if you do chill the pasta while it's marinating, bring it up to room temperature before serving). Or you can flagrantly disregard this and serve it right away--either way, sprinkle a little more salt and pepper on top before eating.

Serves: 6
Time: 30 minutes, plus 1-8 hours marinating time

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