pasta with butter, balsamic vinegar, and tomatoes
This is a great recipe for when you have a surplus of fresh tomatoes, or those that you have are getting a bit elderly, as mine were. In general, when I make a tomato pasta I use crushed tinned tomatoes. I’m sure that using whole tinned tomatoes would guarantee me a better quality tomato, but I consider crushing them to be too labour intensive and if I’m already buying them in a tin it’s because I’m trying to cut down on labour. This is a recipe where using fresh tomatoes is really worth it.
I saw this recipe on a television show featuring two female English chefs – not the fat ladies. I can’t remember their names or where they’ve worked, but they’re both late middle-age, and a tiny bit scruffy in a very cool way. They’re very fond of tongs, as I recall. If you know who they are you can go and look up the original recipe instead of relying on my interpretation of the scribbled notes I made while watching their show. All quantities listed below are approximate.
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 3-4 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cup torn or chiffonaded basil
- balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper
- pecorino cheese
- pasta of your choice
- Melt butter on high heat. Add the garlic. When garlic softens, add the tomatoes.
- Add basil. Squash tomatoes down a bit with a spoon, lower the heat.
- Reduce tomatoes to a pasty concentrate.
- Cook the pasta
- Drop some more butter onto the pasta, mix to coat.
- Drizzle pasta with balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a generous quantity of pecorino cheese. Add the tomato sauce.
simmer down notes
- The original recipe specifies peeled cherry tomatoes or tinned tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are usually easier to peel than large tomatoes so the fact that you’re peeling a big pile shouldn’t matter, but they’re also so delicious raw that you mightn’t want to waste them on a cooked tomato sauce.
- In the original, rigatoni is recommended. I like this with fettucine or spaghetti – it’s a sticky enough sauce if you really reduce the tomatoes.
- I’ve listed the pecorino as being added to the pasta. When I make this dish at home I put the pecorino on the side.
- The reason I consider this to be appropriate for a ‘surplus tomatoes’ situation is not because it requires a huge number of tomatoes, just that I prefer to eat fresh tomatoes fresh, not cooked, so only if I have many will I be prepared to commit a few to a saucepan.