Tuesday, February 24, 2015


For Mother’s Day  one year, maybe 5 or 6 years ago, Dave and Johnny built me some grow boxes, conveniently located at the end of our driveway.  I thank them for only building two, because I may dream about being a nature girl with a green thumb but the reality is that I can hardly keep those never-say-die philodendrons alive in my house. 
I plant four items in my grow boxes: tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and basil.  Lots of basil.  It’s the thing I use most, and most appreciate being able to walk out and snip from my own growing place.
One of my go-to recipes during the growing season, or when I find basil marked down at Smiths or cherry tomatoes on a major discount at the 5 Hour Store, is Pasta Pomodoro. It’s quick, and fresh, and you can stretch it to feed a crowd if you need to.


1 lb capellini or angel hair pasta (Barilla)

1-3 lb tomatoes

1 bunch of fresh basil

1 cluster of fresh garlic

Olive oil


Salt and pepper

I prefer to use angel hair pasta or capellini because the thin noodle represents the correct proportion of pasta to sauce for me.  But you can use any kind of pasta.
I’ve cooked  the sauce on the stove top in a heavy fry pan, and I’ve broiled it in the oven.  Both work fine. You can cut fresh tomatoes (Roma are best, but any will work) into small pieces, or you can use small whole tomatoes cut in half. Lately I’ve been using cherry or grape tomatoes in the oven.  Here’s how I do that:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, for the pasta
Wash and cut grape tomatoes in half. I use two Tupperware lids or two small plates stacked with the tomatoes between them to cut the tomatoes.  Fill the plate with the tomatoes, place another plate upside down on the tomatoes, then using a long serrated knife, slice horizontally between the plates.  Repeat till the tomatoes are all cut.
Cut grape tomatoes easily by placing them in a tupperware lid.  Put another lid on top and slice between the two lids.

I use this handy tool all the time.  Put garlic clove inside rubber tube and roll.  It comes out clean and ready to cook.

Place ¼ c good olive oil in the bottom of a glass casserole dish.  Toss tomatoes in oil.  Add  cleaned cloves of a cluster of garlic and toss as well.  Wash and tear a bunch of fresh basil, mix with other ingredients.  Sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt.  Broil close to the element in your oven, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are cooked and garlic is tender.
Boil pasta until al dente, roughly 6 minutes for angel hair pasta.  Drain pasta and toss into tomato mixture.  Add a tablespoon of butter and toss.
I often serve this with thinly sliced chicken breasts which have also been seared and quickly cooked in olive oil, garlic and butter.


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