pasta with butter, balsamic vinegar, and tomatoes

September 4, 2007 at 9:45 am 5 comments

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.
  • fettucine2.jpgIn 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.

Entry filed under: eating, pasta, recipe.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ramie  |  September 7, 2007 at 1:36 am

    Thanks for the pasta recipe with tomatoes. I am just about to make it as I have some garden tomatoes( yellow ones) simmering in butter. I started to get hungry reading your recipe so figured it would be great!

  • 2. girlinta  |  September 10, 2007 at 11:49 am

    I hope it worked well for you! I’m a huge fan of this recipe for its deliciousness and simplicity. I bet it’s even better when you use your own tomatoes.

  • 3. Debbie  |  August 15, 2009 at 4:06 am

    I have made this recipe probably 4 times in the past couple months. It’s fast, healthy, and oh so yummy! Thank you for the great recipe!

  • 4. Debbie  |  August 15, 2009 at 4:07 am

    I have made this recipe probably four times in the past couple months. It’s fast, healthy, and oh so yummy! Thank you for the great recipe!

  • 5. Kate  |  June 13, 2010 at 2:28 am

    Just made this! I used canned tomatoes instead, turned out so yummy!


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