Ok… so this is just one girl’s opinion (feel free to vehemently disagree with me)… but I believe it is nothing short of a sin, a travesty, and a crying shame to cook garden-fresh tomatoes!
Was that a confusing statement? What I mean is that in my ever-so-humble opinion, there is only one acceptable way to eat garden-fresh tomatoes and it is raw, raw, raw, raw, RAW.
Disclaimer #1: I’m not one to turn down tomatoes in any form. I love them! But you can cook any old tomato… even a Wal-Mart tomato in the dead of winter… and the flavor will be about the same as a summer tomato after it’s been cooked. The cooking process concentrates the sugars in tomatoes and brings out a much different taste than when they are eaten raw. And it’s a great taste, don’t get me wrong! It’s just that a good raw tomato is so hard to find, why would you waste that rare wonderfulness by cooking it?
Disclaimer #2: Yes, I do realize that if you have an over-abundance of garden tomatoes, cooking/preserving them allows you to avoid wasting them and to enjoy them year-round. And of course I think that is a great thing to do. I salute you, Modern Day Canners! Ignore my above statements about tomato-cooking being a sin and all that.
Is my rambling causing your eyes to glaze over? If so, then allow me to get to my point: I don’t insist you take up the same absolutist stance I hold on this subject. You are perfectly free to cook your garden tomatoes as much as you like. But can we at least acknowledge the beauty of leaving them raw every now and then?
This pasta dish is all about capitalizing on that beauty! It highlights the freshness and ease of raw garden tomatoes by using a “tomato basil vinaigrette” in place of a more traditional cooked tomato sauce. And it is sublime! You will LOVE it. (Not only because it is delicious but because the whole meal takes like 15 minutes to make, from start to finish.) You’ll see in the photo above that I added sauteed kale to it as well. I happened to have some on hand and I thought it rounded out the meal nicely. But if you don’t have kale or you think it’s too trendy or something, feel free to leave it out!
The point is: THE SAUCE, people. You have to try the sauce. It takes no time to make, and the flavor is truly summer at its peak of perfection.
And once you’ve gobbled up all the deliciously coated pasta, I highly suggest you sop up any leftover vinaigrette with a crusty hunk of bread.
I did that… (sopped up the extra vinaigrette with some crusty bread.) And in the words of Rachel Zoe…
So yeah. I hope I’ve made my point. Here’s the printable recipe below! Happy late summer to all, and may the tomatoes in your garden be plentiful!
- 10 oz. rigatoni pasta
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, about 1 lb. total
- 6 Tbsp. roughly chopped fresh basil
- 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp. salt
- pepper, to taste
- ½ C. grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add rigatoni pasta and cook according to package directions (usually around 8-10 minutes.)
- To make vinaigrette, start by peeling the tomatoes. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and heat until the skins loosen, 15-30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes from the hot water and let stand until cool enough to handle, then peel off the skins. Core the tomatoes, halve them crosswise, and gently dig out the seeds using your fingers, then coarsely chop the tomato flesh. You should have about 1½ cups chopped tomatoes.
- Transfer the chopped tomatoes to a small food processor. Add the basil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Process mixture until a chunky vinaigrette forms. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- When pasta is cooked, strain it and return it to the hot pot. Pour in vinaigrette, stirring to combine while pasta is still hot. Stir in Parmesan cheese (if using.)
- Serve immediately alongside crusty bread for dipping.
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