So, I’m no meteorologist, but it has been freezing lately. The Polar Vortex came and went and now it’s back and according to the forecast, it’s going to be frigid until atleast August. I know I should be craving something Wintery like beef stew, but the other night I just needed a taste of Summer to remind me what sun and warmth feel like.
This pasta dish was a hot item about six months ago. You may have seen it making the rounds. Martha Stewart featured it in the June issue of Living magazine and soon all the cool kids were doing it. To be honest, I think I initially tried it because I was having doubts the technique actually worked. I kind of suspected Martha waved her magic wand and – a la peanut butter sandwiches – created a dish that mere mortals could not possibly replicate.
You basically combine all the ingredients in a shallow pan, bring everything to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until the pasta absorbs the liquid and flavors from the tomatoes, onion, garlic and herbs. I’d seen a similar approach done with red wine, but this was a little different in that you never drain the pasta. It cooks to completion in the water, all the flavors meld together and the starch from the pasta blends with the cooking liquid to create a really unique sauce.
I gave it a shot.
I made a couple tactical errors. First, I used capellini or angel hair. Second, I let the pasta cook a bit too long. The flavor was spot-on, but the texture was a bit gluey. When I made this just recently, I opted for linguine as the original recipe suggests. Made for an entirely different dish. When you try this, stick with linguine. I think it has more surface area, which generates more starch, resulting in a creamier sauce. You think the sauce is going to be watery, but it’s not at all. I also pulled the pan from the heat sooner, which kept the pasta al dente.
This recipe has so many possibilities. I’m planning to add sun dried tomatoes next time and some olives, capers and pine nuts right before I remove the pan from the heat. I may also try a combination of chicken stock and white wine in lieu of water. This would be incredible topped with fresh ricotta. You can use a can of diced or stewed tomatoes if you don’t have any fresh on-hand, but just wait until this Summer when your garden is overflowing with tomatoes – they will be amazing in this dish! Worth noting, I love red pepper flakes, but they pack a real punch here. I will scale back significantly the next time I make this – probably no more than 1/8 teaspoon.
Try this tomorrow for a Meatless Monday meal!
All at Once Pasta
Adapted from Martha Stewart
12 ounces whole grain linguine
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
1 red onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 1/2 cups water
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, basil, oil, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and water in a large straight-sided skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide among 4 bowls, top generously with grated Parmesan and garnish with basil.