Orecchiette with fresh tomato sauce

Cherry tomato illustration for summer basil pasta recipe

It’s been hot in New York. Did I mention it before? But as temperatures return to a more normal range (really hot, rather than really too hot) the affects of the weather on my friends is coming to light.

Laura ordered a shop-sized box of popsicles off the internet and has nothing else at all in her freezer (it looks awesome). Then there’s Ian, who took part in a sponsored cycle, got a touch over heated, tripped over the pedals as he dismounted, caught his fall on a bench and sprained his wrist. It’s in a splint. Amazing Grace bought a white cotton dress, wore it to a party, then discovered that in every Facebook photo of her, her underwear is clearly visible.

People have been getting hot and bothered in other ways too – Sara went out for a date (sadly, no chemistry) with a guy who bought her a frozen margarita in a bar and sent it to her with a note on the napkin reading “hot night, hot girl”. (“It’s a good line. Cheesy, sure, but good,” she explained “I don’t really know what I was thinking. He was wearing a sun visor.”) And then there’s Ella, who exchanged flirtatious glances with a man riding the up escalator at 34th street while she was going down. As she congratulated herself on her bravery and sex-goddess-ness, she noticed that he had in fact been flirting with the topless man two steps behind and she had been making come hither eyes into a vacuum.

As the heat wave in New York subsides – for the summer? Too much to hope? – back out on the balcony, there are winners and losers. The sweetpeas are a brown crunchy tangle. The sunflowers wilt and fade. Meanwhile, the mint and basil spread like a weeds, and the cherry tomatoes and chili peppers ripen and blush under the baking sun.

So I suppose this dinner is the equivalent of a store cupboard supper for me at the moment. It the kind of meal that can be put together in ten minutes while the pasta is cooking, so including boiling water time, 15 minutes after you desire dinner, you can be eating it.

Orecchiette photo for summer pasta recipeThe combination of basil and tomatoes is a classic one however you spin it, and since both ingredients are at their freshest, summer best right about now, their moment has really arrived.

I have a particular soft sport of orecchiette, ever since a raucous family holiday to Puglia a few years ago, where it is the regional pasta shape. It looks like little scoops, sometimes referred to as ears. I stood fascinated watching a woman sitting at a table outside her house making it – cutting a roll of dough into short disks as though she was slicing a salami, then pressing out the curve with her thumb. The scoop shape is great for cupping this fresh tomato sauce.

Orecchiette with fresh pasta sauce (serves 2)

basil for basil pasta recipe1 cup of cherry tomatoes
1 cup of fresh basil
1 clove of garlic
1 1/2 cups orecchiette
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese
(optional – 3 tbsp cream)
  • Bring a pan of water to the boil salt it generously, add the pasta, stir to separate, clamp the lid on and set a timer for 2 mins less than the packet instructions so it will be al dente
  • Bruise the garlic (by smashing it under the flat of a knife blade, or squashing it with a can or rolling pan)
  • Dice the tomatoes finely (or pulse in a processor), then put them in a bowl with the garlic, snip in the basil leaves and a good glug of olive oil (a coupel of tbsps)
  • Once the pasta timer goes off, drain the pasta (not too well, the starch in the water helps the sauce), then add the tomato mixture to the pan – picking out the garlic – and stir well
  • Turn in the heat for a minute, then grate over lots of parmesan cheese (1/2 cup ish) and black pepper. Add the cream if using and warm through
  • Serve in warmed bowls

If You Can Make That You Can Make This

  • Summer bruschetta photo for recipeUse the marinated tomato micture to top toasted bread to make bruchetta
  • Add torn mozzarella for a take on a pasta caprese salad
  • Add feta or crumbled ricotta salata for a sharper tang
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