Friday, August 31, 2012

Garden 2012: The Harvest Hits

We leave town for a week and suddenly it's tomato season!

Can't ask for better timing than that, especially since a couple of years ago we left for a few days about this time of year and got a panicky call from our son, who was housesitting for us and had just collected a bushel of ripe tomatoes from the garden. "No problem," we said, sensing this was a perfect teachable moment. "Get a big pot, chunk up the tomatoes and simmer them over low heat. You'll have sauce in no time."

I've run the recipe below before, which is based on a Mark Bittman dish from his Minimalist days, but it's one of our all-time favorite, go-to weeknight dinners. And there's no better time to make it than when cherry tomatoes are popping out of the garden and flooding into farmers' markets!

Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic and Anchovies

1 lb. dried pasta
2 Tbsp. olive oil
6 anchovy fillets (in oil or salt-packed)
2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1 pint (2-3 cups) cherry tomatoes (larger tomatoes, roughly chopped, also work well)
2 c. chopped kale, chard, spinach or other greens (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan and/or pecorino cheese, grated

Bring large pot of salted water to boil.

While water is heating, heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. If using salt-packed anchovies, rinse and dry on a paper towel and proceed as with tinned anchovies. If using tinned anchovies, add without draining to skillet and sauté, breaking them up with a spatula until they dissolve (watch out for splattering). Add garlic and heat briefly, then add cherry tomatoes and reduce heat to simmer.

While tomatoes cook down, add pasta to boiling water and cook till al dente. While pasta cooks, add greens, if desired, to skillet and let them wilt. (To me, adding the greens makes a one-dish dinner, but it'd also be great with a green salad and bread.) Add salt and pepper to taste. When pasta is cooked, drain and put in serving bowl. Pour tomato mixture over top and toss gently. Sprinkle with cheese and serve more on the table.

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