Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil, Garlic, and Feta

Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil, Garlic, and Feta

August is Tomato Season! I’ve got a great way to honour, enjoy, and savour this most delicious of fruits we treat as a vegetable. This pasta dish is one my family in Toronto eats throughout the summer. Actually, it’s probably on the menu at least once a week in the height of tomato season. The dish is super easy to put together and can feed one, two, or a table full of hungry peeps. My sister is particularly ace at making this dish, as her first-born tendencies 🙂 have her dicing tomatoes better than any speedy kitchen processor!

What I particularly like about this bowl of goodness, is that you can make it several hours in advance, and allow it to develop throughout the day. Find a nice big bowl to toss the ingredients in, and you’re good to go. We typically start this dish after lunch and allow it to sit and marry over the course of the afternoon. Fresh basil is key here, and you’ll want to save a bit for a final sprinkle as garnish. And if you don’t have time to let this sit for a few hours, worry not. You can get away with about an hour of marinating time, just know that the tomatoes will not have developed as much as they will with an afternoon of absorbing the other ingredients.

Top tip: Please, please, please…. do not put tomatoes in the fridge. This, is death to tomatoes as they become mealy when in contact with the cold of your fridge. The countertop is the only place to store your tomatoes. Give it a try if you want – put one tomato in the fridge, and leave one on the counter overnight. Have a taste the next day, and see what you think. You may not be able to tell so much if you are cooking the tomatoes, but when eating a fresh tomato, room temp is best.

Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus the amount of time you allow the tomatoes to marinate (2-6 hours)

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Total Active Time: 25

Serves: 4 people as a main dish

Ingredients

  • 8 medium size tomatoes, diced
  • 
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish (chiffonade, if you dare!
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt flakes
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 450 grams of your favourite pasta – fusilli or orecchiette work well because the tomatoes fall into the nooks and crannies (I used gluten free pasta here.)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 200g goat milk feta, crumbled
  • +/- 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts for garnish (optional)
  • freshly grated Parmesan for garnish

Directions
Find an absolutely beautiful bowl in which to serve the quantity of pasta you are cooking, and add to this, the diced tomatoes. Typically, we use two tomatoes per person. You may think this is a lot, but you’ll be gobbling up any extra tomatoes at the end of the meal – trust me!

Once you’ve diced enough tomatoes, add the chopped garlic, basil leaves, salt, and pepper. Give this a good mix, and set the bowl on the counter, allowing the mix to marinate until dinner time. Throughout the afternoon, whenever you pass the bowl, give it a stir.

In a large pot of boiling water, add the pasta and cook as per instructions. While the pasta is boiling, pour in the oil and crumble the feta into the tomato mixture, and give it another stir. It’s now ready to receive the cooked pasta. Add the cooked and drained pasta to the tomato mixture, and toss everything together. If you wish, add in up to 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water to loosen the mix.

Serve into four deep bowls, garnishing with toasted pine nuts, a sprinkle of basil, and a fresh crack of pepper. If you want it a little cheesier, some freshly grated Parmesan is ideal! Enjoy every bite, and look forward to the next time you make the dish – I bet that will be soon!

P.S. You can also use bocconcini cheese with this dish, but it can become a bit stodgy if left to sit too long.

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